I wrote over the weekend that the Steelers should have been concentrating on winning and not revenge as they prepared for a Week 11 match-up with the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.
It’s tough to say what the Steelers had on their minds for the majority of Sunday’s action under the Florida sun, but the one thing that seemed absolutely clear was the continued mastery Jacksonville had over Pittsburgh dating back to October 8 of last season.
Much like the two match-ups in 2017, the Jaguars ran all over Pittsburgh’s defense to the tune of 179 yards total.
As for the performance of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it was so bad for most of the day—he was intercepted three times by the 8:02 mark of the third quarter—people were speculating on Twitter about whether or not he should have been pulled from the game.
Speaking of Pittsburgh’s offense, its first nine possessions ended in either a punt or those three aforementioned interceptions by Roethlisberger, with the third one occurring in the end zone, just when it looked like the Steelers would cut into Jacksonville’s 9-0 lead.
Instead, the Jaguars seemed to put the final nail in Pittsburgh’s five-game winning-streak with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a two-yard touchdown dive by, who else, Leonard Fournette, the second-year running back who tortured the Steelers’ defense in both losses a year ago.
The Jaguars were up 16-0, and even though a victory would only improve their record to 4-6, they surely had to be feeling good that one part of their program as a young and talented team—dominance over the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers—was still alive and well.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, their dominance over Pittsburgh evidently has an expiration date, and the milk seemed to spoil very late in the third quarter.
From that moment on, the Steelers out-gained Jacksonville 249 to minus-three in yards and out-scored them 20-0 in points.
The Steelers final yard was gained by Roethlisberger, who capped off the game-winning drive with a touchdown dive of his own with five seconds left.
Despite one of the most ineffective days of his career, Roethlisberger wound up with 314 yards through the air and two passing touchdowns to go along with the game-winner he scored with his legs.
Despite frustrating the holy heck out of Antonio Brown and terrorizing Roethlisberger with two of his three interceptions, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was torched when it mattered the most, on a 25-yard hookup from Roethlisberger to Brown down to the two-yard line in the final minute.
As for a Steelers defense that was effectively gashed by the Jaguars running game yet again, it may have bent a lot, but it only broke once. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles, the quarterback who managed to defeat Pittsburgh last October despite passing for less than 100 yards, couldn’t come through when his team needed him to, managing a measly 104 yards through the air, while getting sacked six times.
The Jaguars do seem to have a knack for making the Steelers look bad and unprepared. That was on display again for all to see on Sunday.
Yet, the Steelers not only walked away with a victory, they did so in improbable fashion, right when it looked like they would— at least temporarily—save Jacksonville’s season.
Turns out the Steelers really did exact their revenge on the Jaguars—and they stole their souls in the process.