Duron Harmon: Steelers' loss shows importance of respecting opponent

Safety Duron Harmon (30) says the Patriots will have their hands full against the Jaguars. Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell and safety Mike Mitchell had tweeted before their divisional-round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars that they were looking forward to a rematch with the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

That got a rise out of the Jaguars -- who won 45-42 -- and led to the following question to Patriots safety Duron Harmon during his weekly interview on WBZ-TV's "Sports Final" program on Sunday night: Could you imagine a Patriots player tweeting about a potential future matchup like that?

Harmon, one of the Patriots' captains, didn't hesitate.

"I don't think anybody in their right mind would do that on our team, just because throughout our team we talk about how important each game is, not looking ahead, putting everything you have into one week, having a one-week season," Harmon told host Steve Burton.

"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. 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."

Harmon detailed why the Jaguars warrant such respect.

"They're super tough up front. They can run the football. They beat the Steelers twice. ... I think they're a top-2 team in the AFC, that's why they are here right now. They are the best team that we're going to play all year so far," he said on the program.

"So we know we're going to have our hands full. They just continue to keep winning games. Their defense is crucial for them. But I mean, [quarterback] Blake Bortles made play after play [Sunday]. He kept a lot of drives going with his feet, with his arm, threw a couple play-action shots. He played well for them."