Steelers won't join in piling on Blake Bortles: 'He can get hot'

Bortles should struggle against Pittsburgh (1:17)

The last time the Steelers and Jaguars played, Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions. Tedy Bruschi and Darren Woodson agree that Jacksonville's Blake Bortles will be the quarterback to struggle in the divisional round of the playoffs. (1:17)

PITTSBURGH -- Jadeveon Clowney called him "trash."

Titans safety Kevin Byard used him as an example of a quarterback who's easy to intercept.

Blake Bortles has become the NFL's easiest target, and he knows it.

But the Pittsburgh Steelers know the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback is capable of beating them in Sunday's divisional round.

They might not fear Bortles like they do the game's best, but there's respect.

"He's a quarterback for a team that's in the playoffs -- I say we give him his credit," Pittsburgh safety Sean Davis said. "We're not running from anybody. We're not scared of anybody. We're just going to see what happens. We're not going to let him beat us with his feet."

Recently, Bortles has been hailed more for his running than his passing. When asked about Bortles' game, Davis said, "He's mobile. We've got to keep him in the pocket. Can't give him easy throws."

That's what happens when a quarterback has more rushing yards than passing yards in a playoff game: 88 to 87 in Sunday's wild-card victory over the Buffalo Bills.

But Bortles' 2017 stat line of 3,687 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 60.2 percent passing is respectable.

Steelers rookie corner Cam Sutton, who might start in place of the injured Artie Burns, recognizes that.

"He's a guy that can definitely get hot," Sutton said. "When they get that run game going, it makes his job that much easier, then teams are sitting on the run and teams are sneaking out boots, they are sneaking on over routes, pick routes. It shows at various times throughout the year he's looked really good. He's had some good passing games. A lot of teams sleep on his mobility."

Central to the Steelers' game plan is Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars' running game. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler said he wants to make the Jaguars play "left-handed" -- i.e., contain Fournette, their best option, and make others players beat the Steelers.

Bortles was 8-of-14 for 95 yards in the Week 5 matchup with Pittsburgh, a 30-9 Jaguars victory. The Steelers won't be overly concerned with Bortles stretching them vertically: He hasn't completed a pass longer than 40 yards in his past seven games.

But the Steelers have given up 10 such passes in their past eight outings against an uninspiring stable of quarterbacks. If they don't clean that up, they might just make Bortles look too good.

"The more we keep him out of those [play-action] situations, the more we keep him off schedule, the more we keep them stalling the clock and trying to read defense, make him think pre-snap and post-snap," Sutton said. "I feel like that's a plus for us."