The Pittsburgh Steelers have now won six straight games and continue to “stack wins.” After their 20-16 come from behind win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11, the team now has to turn the page quickly before they travel again, this time to Denver to play the Broncos in Week 12.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we talk about how despite the win in Week 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers should have learned some very valuable lessons throughout the 20-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
These lessons are more than the typical “don’t play down to your opponents” type talk, but a focus on details which turned the tide against a very good defense, and stopped a very good running game, when it mattered the most.
Let’s get to the news:
By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Mike Tomlin talked about the lessons to be learned for the Pittsburgh Steelers, not just from their comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars but the failures that required the fourth-quarter rally.
Where Tomlin couldn’t overlook the deep hole the Steelers dug for themselves, he also was impressed with the character his team showed in the 20-16 victory over the Jaguars Sunday at TIAA Bank Field.
“That’s football, man. That’s team,” Tomlin said. “We weren’t perfect today but we did the job, rising up to support their brother. There was a lot of that because there was a lot of failure. But that failure has got something to do with the execution of the Jacksonville Jaguars and their plan and their coaching and their play. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that.”
These weren’t the Jaguars that beat the Steelers twice at Heinz Field last season, ending their season in the AFC divisional playoff round. This was a Jacksonville team that had lost five consecutive games, and Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was trying not to lose his locker room.
The Steelers were riding a five-game winning streak, coming off an impressive 52-21 Thursday night victory over Carolina. Tomlin gave his players a five-day break as a reward for their short-week success. It was as if the Steelers went into a time warp, reverting back to the way they played through the first four games of the season.
What should have served the Steelers well proved instead to be disruptive to their rhythm. The offense had none in the first half, accounting for 66 yards total offense and two turnovers. Ben Roethlisberger had a 10.1 passer rating at halftime, and that was only after completing 5 of 6 passes in a late second-quarter drive.
The Jaguars were surprised to see the Steelers abandon the run game so quickly, as James Conner had five carries for 13 yards in the first half and Roethlisberger came up short on a quarterback sneak.
But the Steelers defense didn’t allow the Jaguars to turn Roethlisberger’s two first-half interceptions into touchdowns, a key after he had a pair of pick-sixes against the Jaguars in the 30-9 regular season loss last year and two turnovers that led to touchdowns in the 45-42 playoff loss. Instead, Jacksonville settled for three field goals and a 9-0 halftime lead.
When the Jaguars did just that in the third quarter, answering Jalen Ramsey’s end-zone interception with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with Leonard Fournette’s 2-yard touchdown dive, the Steelers could have fallen apart. Instead, they showed character.
“I think we always play better when we’re behind,” Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “We stuck together. There was nobody doubting each other. We’re one team, one unity and we kept that faith.”
By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The Jacksonville Jaguars boasted the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense, and they let the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers hear about it all game.
“There was a lot of talking with them, in my ear talking a lot of stuff,” Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said, self-censoring their comments by making a beeping sound. “But that’s what they do. I give it up to them. They played really great.”
Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown played even better in the Steelers’ 20-16 victory Sunday over the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field, as both eclipsed the 100-yard mark and made catches that propelled a comeback.
Brown finished with five receptions for 117 yards, none bigger than his 78-yard touchdown catch on a broken play late in the third quarter to put the Steelers on the scoreboard. Ben Roethlisberger’s pass appeared to be intended for Smith-Schuster, who drew a pass-interference penalty on free safety Jarrod Wilson, but Brown was all alone and ran under it.
Brown wouldn’t divulge what happened on the play.
“I’ve got to go back,” Brown said, smiling. “It’s a long day. I kind of don’t remember.”
Smith-Schuster had a game-high eight catches for 104 yards, and made some memorable plays to spark the second scoring drive. He caught three consecutive passes, for gains of 9, 21 and 9 yards, to set up tight end Vance McDonald’s touchdown catch that cut it to 16-13.
Smith-Schuster’s first two catches came against Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye; the next two came on back-shoulder throws against All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey, who had two interceptions.
Bouye warned Ramsey not to take the fourth-quarter letdown personally despite their sixth consecutive loss.
“I told him it’s more of a mental thing,” Bouye said. “We threw our egos to the side and we knew that we weren’t doing what we needed to do as a defense, especially in the back end where we’re the No. 1 pass defense. But we’re busting plays, but we play as a group. We did a lot of good things out there but we can’t just let that last drive hurt our confidence.”
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
A voice boomed through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ postgame locker room scene, letting everyone know his team was supposed to get buried Sunday.
”But not us,” coach Mike Tomlin said after the 20-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Not only does a six-game win streak stay alive, but the Steelers also got the ultimate win-win by playing poorly enough to learn from an ugly victory.
The Steelers showed that they can find creative ways to win amid a collapsing game plan by exhausting every second of the 60-minute game clock, being the more physical team on defense and believing that their bevy of playmakers will prevail most weeks.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger used the words “terrible” and “horrible” to describe the offense and his three-interception performance, but he almost wore those words proudly because of what the win represents.
While the fourth-quarter offense racked up 179 yards and two touchdowns, the Steelers’ defense held Jacksonville to minus-3 yards.
Through it all, defensive players were encouraging Roethlisberger from the sideline, telling him, “All right, Ben, you’ve got this.”
”They never stopped believing in us. We believe in them and thank them,” Roethlisberger said. “I hope if we get in a situation again toward the end of the season where one of us isn’t playing well, we can show that, ‘Hey, remember that game in Jacksonville when it didn’t look good until the final eight seconds and we found way?’ Hopefully we can use this.”
Most importantly, the Steelers’ offense learned that it has a defense that can bail it out on occasion. That didn’t look like a possibility when the Steelers were giving up six touchdowns to Patrick Mahomes in Week 2. Things have settled down, and so has a defense that has adequately handled pure passers, read-option passers and run-heavy sets the past six weeks.
This defense might just be built for January.
“Those are the ones you want to win -- when it’s ugly,” Cam Heyward said. “It shows a lot of character, lot of maturity.”