clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at the most memorable Steelers vs. Jaguars contests

With the Steelers traveling to TIAA Bank Stadium for a preseason matchup, BTSC looks back at the most-memorable games ever played between Jacksonville and the Men of Steel.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Do the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and storied history, that would be a firm no. But the two AFC teams were once division rivals and nearly always put on a fantastic show when pitted head-to-head. Since 1995, the team from Duval and the Men of Steel City have battled a total of 27 times (including two playoff games) with Jacksonville edging the Steelers 14-13.

Here’s a brief tale of the tape:

Points: Jaguars 517, Steelers 502

Wins: Jaguars 14, Jaguars 13

Home Record: Steelers 6-7, Jaguars 7-7

Shutouts: Jaguars 1, Steelers 0

Biggest Win Margin: 11/17/1996 - Steelers 28, Jaguars 3

Closest Game: 12/5/2004 - Steelers 17, Jaguars 16

Overtime Games: 2 - Steelers 1-1, Jaguars 1-1

Postseason Record: Jaguars 2, Steelers 0

Now Let’s take a look at the most memorable games that these two franchises have offered up to the football world.

October 8, 1995 - Jaguars 20, Steelers 16

This was the first-ever meeting between the newly-minted division rivals and it couldn’t have gone much worse for the Steelers on the road in Florida. The enduring a trying start to a season in which Super Bowl hopes were high, got their starting quarterback to return after fracturing his pinky on his throwing head in the opener against Detroit. The Maryland Terp was 19 of 35 for 282 yards and threw a touchdown pass, but it would not be good enough to stop the expansion Jags. Mark Brunell (courtesy of the Packers) took the notion of Florida’s famed early-bird specials literally and found Cedric Tillman on the game’s first drive for a score. Then following an Andre Hastings fumbled punt-return, James Stewart busted through with a six-yard run to put Jacksonville up 14-0 in the second. The Steelers would get on the board in the first half though, as Steve Avery took an pass from O’Donnell and rumbled 18 yards to the touchdown zone. Mike Hollis tacked on a field goal and Duval was celebrating 17-7 at intermission. The Steelers outscored Jacksonville in the second half 9-3 on three Norm Johnson Field Goals, but it was not enough. Pittsburgh turned the ball over on downs three times in the fourth quarter, as Jacksonville won their second-straight contest despite surrendering 160 yards on six catches to Yancey Thigpen and 2 12 sacks at the hands of Kevin Greene. All in all, this first meeting was notice that the newcomers would be a thorn in the Steelers side for years.

September 22, 1997 - Jaguars 30, Steelers 21

The Jaguars, who achieved their first-ever triumph at home against the Steelers two years earlier, were welcoming their black-and-gold rivals for their first-ever Monday Nighter. Mark Brunell (328 yards/1 TD) was once again a challenge for the Steelers. After Natrone Means plowed in. Kordell Stewart found Charles Johnson for 49-yards and then capped it off with a six-yard dash for six. Then when a Tony Brackens sack forced a Slash Stewart turnover, Brunell hooked-up with Jimmy Smith for a touchdown and a Mike Hollis field goal gave the Jaguars a 17-7 lead at Halftime. In the second half, the Steelers made Jacksonville the bus route and rode Jerome Bettis (114 yards on the ground) to set up a gorgeous touch-pass from Kordell to Yancey Thigpen for a free ride on the touchdown train. Another Mike Hollis field goal extended the lead, but Bill Cowher’s gang scored again thanks to a 52-yard kick return by Will Blackwell, once again a long reception by Johnson, capped off by a Kordell to Mark Bruener touchdown collaboration to take a 21-20 advantage. The game seemed to be saved by the visitors after Mike Hollis missed his second field goal of the night, but a series of miscues thwarted the plan. Defensive back Randy Fuller had an easy interception jarred away by teammate Darren Perry in a collision and Nolan Harrison was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the same fourth-down drive to negate a 3rd and 10 Myron Bell sack. The new life gave Hollis another chance and Tom Coughlin’s team took a 23-21 lead. Jacksonville reciprocated with a key unnecessary roughness of their own on Kordell on a 4th and 1 with 1:55 remaining. In came Norm Johnson a few plays later to wrap it up with a field goal, but holder Mike Tomczak fielded a low snap and the kick was blocked by Travis Davis and fielded by Chris Hudson who went the distance (and avoided interference by Bill Cowher who stepped onto the playing field looking like he wanted to attack) for the score and the 30-21 loss for the Steelers.

October 26, 1997 - Steelers 23, Jaguars 17 (OT)

The Steelers never forgot the MNF loss in Florida in Week 4 of ‘97 that dropped them to 1-2. But riding a four-game winning streak, the Men of Still were battling their rivals from Florida for the top of the AFC Central. It started out scary for the home crowd at Three Rivers when Kordell Stewart threw an ugly interception, constant tormentor Mark Brunell completed a touchdown pass to Willie Jackson and Mike Hollis added a field goal after a Stewart fumble to make the score 10-0 after one half. The Steelers came to life in the third quarter due to Courtney Hawkins collaboration with Kordell for 28 yards of glory and a momentum-turning stop by Greg Lloyd on Jaguars running back James Stewart for no gain on a 4th and 1 from the Steelers 2. The Steelers proceeded to go all the way don the field by riding “The Bus” frequently on a drive that went 98 yards for a Slash touchdown and a 14-10 fourth-quarter lead. However, Jerome Bettis got a flat and lost the ball to Jax’ Tony Brackens. Four plays later, Brunell channeled his inner-Ice Man and told Pete Mitchell, “You could be my wingman anytime.” as the duo were top guns together for a touchdown and a 17-14 tally with 8:13 left. The Steelers needed to rally and they did, tying things up with 2:21 left following a Norm Johnson field goal of 19 yards after Courtney Hawkins was stopped at the one. Brunell couldn’t rally for the win after A Carnell Lake hit led to a dislocated finger and a trip to overtime. On a 3rd and 2 in Sudden Death, Jerome Bettis (99 yards on the day) took a shovel pass from Kordell Stewart and barreled 17 yards for the game winner. The passing game for the Steelers came up huge in this one as Kordell was 25/42 for 317 yards to mostly Yancey Thigpen 11 (catches for 198) and Courtney Hawkins (7 catches for 71). Rookie Chad Scott had a pick in this game, while Jason Gildon, Nolan Harrison, Chris Oldham and Levon Kirkland chipped in with sacks. The win put the Steelers ahead of the Jags in the Central and would prove to be the difference in winning the division crown.

November 22, 1998 - Steelers 30, Jaguars 15

The Steelers 1998 season had not gone off the rails yet and the team was looking in decent shape at 6-4 and looking to gain ground against the 8-2 Jaguars at Three Rivers Stadium. This game was never really in doubt as Dwayne Washington bookended the scoring with a pair of pick-sixes, a first-quarter 52 yarder and another with 34 seconds left. Down 13-0 at the half, the North Floridian visitors finally got on the board in the second half on a two-yard run by Fred Taylor. Late in the third Charles Johnson made a spectacular one-handed, leaping grab of a Kordell Stewart (25/36 for 208 yards and a TD and no interceptions for a third consecutive week) to save possibly a pick-six and setting up another Norm Johnson field goal. Mark Bruener’s fourth-quarter touchdown reception with 8:59 remaining stretched the black-and-gold advantage to 23-7. The Jaguars attempted to get back in the game and made it a one-score game on a Mark Brunell to Jimmy Smith 33-yard scoring connection and the subsequent two-point conversion to Keenan McCardell. The Jaguars were driving deep into Steelers territory and on their way to tying it up when Washington ended it with his previously-mentioned, second interception return of 78 yards. The excitement that was generated by the big win, ended a week later when Bill Cowher’s club lost the controversial Thanksgiving Coin-Toss game in Detroit and dropped their final five to end miserably at 7-9.

December 5, 2004 - Steelers 17, Jaguars 16

Roethlisberger-mania was running wild in the Steel City and all over the league, for that matter, when the 10-1 Steelers rode their nine-game winning streak into Jacksonville for a Sunday Night tilt in prime time. Big Ben (a 37-yarder to Hines Ward) and future Steelers’ backup Byron Leftwich (a 22-yarder to Troy Edwards) traded touchdown passes in the first quarter to guys with black-and-gold roots. In the second, the rookie sensation came up big with a 26-yard TD pass to Jay Riemersma that Jaguar HC Jack Del Rio challenged to no avail. The Steelers led 14-7 at the half. In the second half, J-Ville controlled the scoring with three Josh Scobee field goals, the last coming with two minutes to play in the game. But the legend of the last-gasp engineered a drive that culminated in a 37-yard field goal by Jeff Reed with 18 seconds left. Leftwich tried valiantly to salvage a victory, but Josh Scobee’s 60-yard field goal attempt had the distance, but was wide right and the Steelers kept their amazing streak show alive.

January 5, 2008 - Jaguars 31, Steelers 29 (2007 AFC Wildcard Game)

Mike Tomlin’s first-ever game in the postseason came after his rookie season as the Steelers Head Coach and it started off well with Najeh Davenport’s rush for a one-yard touchdown on the first possession of the game. The ensuing kickoff turned into a Maurice Jones-Drew 95-yard return to the one that Fred Taylor capped-off on the next play. But the tide turned with Ben Roethlisberger throwing three interceptions in the first half. Notorious Steeler tormenter Rashean Mathis took the first one 63-yards to the house, while the next one, another theft by Mathis, precipitated a Jones-Drew catch-and-run on a pass from David Garrard from 46 out. The third interception came after a Josh Scobee miss and with the Steelers driving, rookie backup lineman Derek Landri came up with the ball. In the second half, the Steelers get back on the scoreboard courtesy of a James Farrior INT that presents an opportunity for a Jeff Reed field goal. But the visitors from Duval scored again as MJD scored again, this time with a 10-yard run. It would get interesting as the Heinz Field Heroes staged a furious comeback to take a 29-28 lead with 6:28 left. The scores came when Ben Roethlisberger’s 4th and 12 completion to Santonio Holmes for a 37-yard trip to the end zone, followed by a Heath Miller touchdown reception from 14 out and a Najeh Davenport burst from the one came after an Ike Taylor pickoff of Garrard. But a pair of two-point conversion failures would haunt the Mike Tomlin’s team, as they couldn’t cling to the one-point lead. The backbreaker came when Garrard, facing a 4th and 2 at the Steelers 43 with 1:56 left, broke free up the middle for a gain of 32. The Steelers defenders were arguing for a hold, but despite replay evidence, it was to no avail. “I don’t want to get fined, but watch the long quarterback sneak,” Larry Foote told reporters. “Watch the middle of the defensive line and you’ll see. You’ll see it. Watch what happens in the middle of the field. You see a big old hole open up and you’ll see the reason why.” All of this sets up Josh Scobee’s 25-yard field goal with 37 seconds left. A last gasp attempt for the black and gold fell to the ground as a strip sack of Roethlisberger sent the Steelers to a premature offseason to think about what might have been.

October 5, 2008 - Steelers 26, Jaguars 21

Rashean Mathis was a Hall of Famer when he played the Pittsburgh Steelers by picking off six passes and returning three for scores in eight career contests. He did it again with a theft of Ben Roethlisberger on Pittsburgh’s opening drive for a 72-yard touchdown in Week 5 prime time affair with old rival Jacksonville. In a flurry of scoring, Big Ben rebounded with a drive of 11 plays and 71 yards when No. 7 found Heath Miller for a one-yard score that was answered by Maurice Jones-Drew courtesy of a terrible call of pass interference for 39 yards on Ike Taylor. While that was it for the half for Jax, the Steelers remained in the zone with good defense, two Jeff Reed field goals and a 48-yard Nate Washington touchdown from Ben to be up 20-14 at Halftime. In the second thirty, there was no scoring until the fourth when an unnecessary roughness penalty gave David Garrard and the Jaguars new life to cash in on a Marcedes Lewis 24-yard touchdown catch to seize the lead 21-20. The Steelers get a shot at redemption with 6:39 and 80 yards to go. Ben wiggled his way out of a sure sacks three times on the final drive, hooking up with Hines Ward (7 catches for 90 yards and a TD) and Nate Washington (6 catches for 94 yards and a TD) and Mewelde Moore’s mammoth run of 27 yards all enabled a fade to Ward in the corner of the end zone at the 1:53 mark. The conversion failed, but the Steelers would stop the Jaguars’ last gasp attempt to win 26-21. Seven would finish with 309 yards and three touchdowns, but Mewelde Moore, starting for injured RBs Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall, performance under the bright lights with 99 yards was the big story. It was a big comeback in an even bigger season that ended with a Lombardi Trophy.

January 14, 2018 - Jaguars 45, Steelers 42 (2017 AFC Wildcard Game)

Still reeling from the loss of Ryan Shazier, the Steelers defense couldn’t stop the bleeding of a typically anemic Blake Bortles and the black-and-gold offense kept giving the visitors opportunity over and over. Following a Leonard Fournette touchdown plunge to open the scoring after the kickoff, a Myles Jack side-line interception set up Fournette’s immediate, 18-yard score for a two touchdown advantage. Todd Haley’s offense got desperate too early late in the first quarter and Le’Veon Bell was devoured for a loss on a 4th and 1 on the Jacksonville 21 to turn the ball back over, in which they immediately marched 75-yards down the field for a T.J. Yeldon run and a 21-0 lead. But the Steelers weren’t about to give up, Ben Roethlisberger rode Lev Bell and Eli Rogers on a drive that ended in a 23-yard score to Antonio Brown. After forcing a punt, the Steelers momentum was crushed when Yannick Ngakoue sacked Roethlisberger and Telvin Smith scooped up the loose ball to take it all the way home for the touchdown. Still fighting, Ben linked-up with Martavis Bryant right before the intermission for 36 yards to cut the score to 28-14 on a 4th and 11 with :25 left. A beauty of a lob pass to Bell from Ben for a score came after the second-half kickoff, but another turnover on downs at the enemy 39 hurt the Steelers. Jacksonville seized the opportunity with a bomb to Keelan Cole setting up a second Fournette TD and started a flurry of scoring by both teams until the game’s conclusion. Next came a 43-yard pass to AB from Ben on fourth down, countered by a Bortles TD to Tommy Bohanon, followed by a Le’veon Bell scoring run with 2:18 left to make the score 42-35. But the decision to go with an onsides kick failed miserably and Jacksonville, held to a three-and-out, kicked a field goal to go ahead by 10. The Steelers would reach the end zone again with a JuJu Smith-Schuster 4-yard grab with a second left, but the game and the opportunity to extend their season ended mercilessly and in utter disappointment. Ben threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but his turnovers scarred the effort. Antonio Brown (132 yards and two touchdowns) and Le’Veon Bell (155 yards of total offense and two scores) were also huge, but individual pay was not enough to thwart the team effort from the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.

November 20, 2018 - Steelers 20, Jaguars 16

The Steelers looked lost and demoralized for the majority of the first three quarters of this contest as the Steelers could only achieve four punts, two picks of Ben Roethlisberger and a turnover on downs in the entire first half of play. Josh Lambo’s three field goals in the first quarter made the score 9-0 at the midway break. The Steelers were driving deep into enemy territory at the 11, but Big Ben’s third interception throw (second to Jalen Ramsey) turned into an 80-yard drive by Jacksonville, capped-off by a Leonard Fournette run for a near-fatal 16-0 lead with 2:09 left in the third. This was when the Steelers decided to get back in the game. as Ben brought out the pump-fake bomb to a cavernous-wide open Antonio Brown for a 78-yard score. The 2PC failed, but the Steelers were on the board 16-6. Jacksonville crossed-over the 50 and looked to be getting into range again, but consecutive Cam Heyward sacks forced a punt, but James Conner dropped a crucial pass on fourth down and the Steelers had to do the same. Later in the last quarter, big catches by JuJu Smith-Schuster led to a Ben to Vance McDonald touchdown with 2:28 left and the Steelers down three. When the Steelers swarming defense achieved a three-and-out to give the Steelers a chance to tie with 100-seconds left, the Steelers took advantage with huge catches by JuJu and AB, survived another huge drop by Conner and saw an interception in the end zone overturned when Kelvin Hayden ripped Ryan Switzer down by the face mask before picking the ball off. With the ball at the one and :18 left, Ben overturned an ugly day when he ran the ball in himself for the win. At 7-2-1. the Men of Steel looked to be in complete control of the AFC North, but a 2-4 finish derailed the playoff train for Pittsburgh.