BOSTON (CBS) — The Pittsburgh Steelers spent much of last week talking about a possible rematch with the New England Patriots, completely overlooking the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That proved to be a costly mistake. Jacksonville jumped out to a 21-0 lead Sunday in Pittsburgh and held off a late Steelers surge (thanks to some terrible coaching on Mike Tomlin’s part) on their way to a 45-42 victory to advance to the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots.
The Patriots know they will be facing a formidable foe next weekend at Gillette Stadium, and if there’s anything we know about a Bill Belichick-led team, it’s that they don’t overlook any opponent. They could be facing a winless Browns team and the Pats would make it sound like they’re about to take on the ’85 Chicago Bears.
So as the Patriots gear up for their seventh straight AFC title game this week, don’t expect anyone on the team to start thinking ahead to a potential trip to Super Bowl LII.
“I don’t think anybody in their right mind would do that on our team,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon told Steve Burton on Sunday night’s Sports Final on WBZ-TV. “Throughout our team we talk about how important each game is, not looking ahead, just putting everything you have into one week, having a one-week season.
“When you start looking ahead and start talking about ‘You want to face this team in the AFC championship,’ not only are you not focused on that game, but you’re not showing the respect to the opponent you’re facing,” said Harmon. “Every NFL team that is playing in the playoffs right now is a good team. They beat good teams to get there, they won more games than they lost. So the last thing you should be doing is not giving them the utmost respect and all your attention. I think [Sunday] was a show of when you don’t respect the opponent all the time and give them the utmost respect and all the attention they need that week, you can let one slip.”
It doesn’t appear Jacksonville corner Jalen Ramsey learned from Pittsburgh’s gaffe, as he’s already gone ahead and said he expects the Jags to win it all. Even though the Patriots head into Sunday’s AFC Championship nine-point favorites over the Jaguars, there will be no such comments coming from Foxboro.
“They beat the Steelers twice, so I think they’re a top-two team in the AFC. That’s why they are here right now,” Harmon said of New England’s next opponent. “They are the best team that we’re going to play all year so far, so we know we’re going to have our hands full. They just continue to keep winning games.”
You can catch Sunday’s Patriots-Jaguars AFC Championship Game on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with a special 90-minute edition of Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 3:05 p.m., and after the game tune in to myTV38 for all the reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter.