Taylor, the Jaguars' star running back, chided the Steelers on
Tuesday for their substandard grass field. He also suggested they
spend $1 million on artificial turf to improve one of the NFL's
worst playing surfaces.
The Jaguars play an AFC wild-card game in Pittsburgh on Saturday
night, their second visit there in less than a month.
"That field is terrible," Taylor said in a conference call
with Pittsburgh reporters. "That's a lawsuit pending. That's
Taylor's comments were unexpected only because he ran for 147
yards and the winning touchdown on that snow-covered, mushy field
during Jacksonville's 29-22 victory in Pittsburgh on Dec. 16.
Also, the Jaguars pride themselves on being a Pittsburgh-like
team that wins with the run and a strong defense. Pittsburgh
running back Willie Parker calls them "the Steelers of the
Taylor, a 10,000-yard career rusher, has 381 yards rushing in
his last two games in Pittsburgh, although his 234 yards there in
2000 came on Three Rivers Stadium's artificial turf.
Despite frequent complaints from visiting players about the
slippery and often grass-bare field since Heinz Field opened in
2001, the Steelers have stayed with grass mostly because their
players often plead with owner Dan Rooney to keep it.
The Steelers put down a new layer of sod after four high school
games and a Pitt game were played at the stadium in a span of 30
hours Nov. 23-24. However, monsoon-like rains created ankle-deep
water and muck for the Steelers' 3-0 win over Miami on Nov. 26.
An NFL operations official stayed in Pittsburgh the following
week to monitor the conditions, and the field held up for the
Steelers' 24-10 victory over Cincinnati on Dec. 2 despite more
Snow fell and strong winds blew throughout the Jacksonville game
two weeks later, yet the Jaguars outgained the Steelers 421-217 and
outrushed them 224-115. The Jaguars were the only visiting team to
beat the Steelers in Heinz Field this season.
No matter, Taylor wants to see artificial turf the next time he
travels to Pittsburgh.
"I prefer grass, but these cold-weather teams, late in the
season, they allow high schools to play on their field and they
allow colleges to play on their field," said Taylor, ninth in the
league with 1,202 yards rushing. "It just goes completely bad. So
I think a million-dollar investment won't hurt their pockets."
The weather may not be the factor for this game it was in the
Steelers' last three home games. The early forecast calls for an
unseasonably mild daytime high of 49, cloudy skies and no
Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio doesn't share Taylor's dislike
of Heinz Field, perhaps because the Jaguars have won their last two
games there. They won 23-17 in 2005, when the Steelers went on to
win the Super Bowl.
"It's a better field now than it has been," Del Rio said.
"Usually at this time of the year, with all the play it gets, it's
really worn. All in all, it's a good, solid field."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seemed pleased to hear of Taylor's
comments, if only because they suggest the field might prove a
distraction to the Jaguars.
"Sure it is [an advantage], if he feels that way," Tomlin
said. "I don't know anybody on our team that hates our field."