The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars went head-to-head for the second straight game, and the home team was looking to reverse the outcome of their Week 5 outing. In that mid-October game, the Jaguars forced 5-interceptions en route to a 30-9 upset victory.
While some have been thinking the Steelers were looking ahead to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, revenge vs. Jacksonville was on the forefront of their minds. Nonetheless, history was thrown out the window in the Divisional Round game in the AFC Playoffs, and the Steelers won the opening coin toss, electing to defer to the second half.
Blake Bortles took the Jaguars down the field with ease on an 8-play drive, resulting in a Leonard Fournette one-yard touchdown run on fourth down, giving Jacksonville an early 7-0 lead.
After a punt, the interception bug bit Ben Roethlisberger again, this time it was linebacker Myles Jack who got the pick, which set up another Leonard Fournette touchdown, giving Jacksonville a 14-0 lead with 5:25 left in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh moved the ball into field goal range on their next drive, but while electing to go for it on 4th-and-inches, the sweep toss to Le’Veon Bell was stopped for a loss, giving the ball back to Jacksonville.
After the failed conversion, Bortles and company moved the ball down the field with ease, again, and were able to put another touchdown on the board. This time it wasn’t Fournette, but T.J. Yeldon who added to their lead. After his run, the score turned 21-0.
Desperately needing points, Pittsburgh rode Le’Veon Bell and Eli Rogers into the red-zone, and Roethlisberger threw his first touchdown pass of the game when he hit Antonio Brown in the back corner of the end-zone to cut into the Jaguars lead. The Chris Boswell point-after made the score 21-7.
How do you do it, @AB84? pic.twitter.com/JS5XEIpdRV— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 14, 2018
After the Pittsburgh defense forced a Jacksonville punt, and the Steelers moved the ball into Jacksonville territory, Roethlisberger was sacked and fumbled the football. The ball was picked up and taken 50-yards by Telvin Smith for another Jaguars’ touchdown, making the score 28-7 with 2:20 left in the first half. It was Roethlisberger’s second turnover of the first half.
Facing a 4th-and-11 with 32-seconds left in the half on their next possession, Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant with a bomb for a Pittsburgh touchdown to make the score 28-14 with just 25-seconds left in the half. The Steelers, who elected to defer at the start of the game, were set up to receive the football to start the second half.
4th down?— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 14, 2018
Throw it up and let @ThaBestUNO get under it.
JAX 28 | PIT 14 pic.twitter.com/43y99NM2Pc
To start the second half, Pittsburgh picked up right where they left off in the first half. The Steelers’ offense continued to drive the football, and with their first trip into the Jacksonville red-zone, Roethlisberger hit Bell on a swing route on 3rd down for a huge touchdown. Boswell’s point-after made the score 28-21.
Killer B's are starting to swarm.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 14, 2018
JAX 28 | PIT 21 pic.twitter.com/a4vqOxp8jz
After a series of punts by both teams, Jacksonville had a punt deflected by Robert Golden, giving Pittsburgh their best starting field position of the day. However, facing another 4th-and-short, Roethlisberger’s pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster fell incomplete, giving the ball back to Jacksonville.
Blake Bortles then completed back-to-back huge third down conversions, the second being a 45-yard completion to rookie Keelan Cole to the two-yard line. What happened next was Fournette completing the hat trick to make the score 35-21 with 10:34 left in the game.
The Steelers desperately needing a play, got several from their best play maker, Antonio Brown. After Brown moved the team into Jacksonville territory, on 4th-and-5 Roethlisberger and Brown hooked up for a beautiful touchdown pass, cutting into the lead 35-28.
Need a big play? Just dial 8️⃣-4️⃣.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 14, 2018
JAX 35 | PIT 28 pic.twitter.com/cA13xFCPQA
Desperately needing a stop, the Pittsburgh defense continued to fail when it mattered the most. Bortles completed two huge third downs, and then a nice play action pass to the tight end resulted in another Jaguars’ touchdown, extending their lead to 42-28 with 4:19 left on the clock.
Pittsburgh, with little time left, took the ball down the field, and it was vintage Ben Roethlisberger as the veteran quarterback was running, and throwing, his way into the end-zone. In the red-zone, Roethlisberger threw a beautiful lateral to Le’Veon Bell for a touchdown, and moved the Steelers within one score again, 42-35.
Big Ben with the backwards pass to @L_Bell26!— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2018
He scores and it's a 7-point game! #JAXvsPIT #NFLPlayoffs
: @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/YrqTn1D85J
Following the score, Pittsburgh attempted an onside kick, but the play was dreadful from start to finish, giving Jacksonville the ball already near field goal range. It took just three plays for the Jaguars to move into Lambo’s field goal range, and make the score 45-35 with just 1:45 left and no timeouts.
Thanks to a last second touchdown by JuJu Smith-Schuster, the final score read 45-42, in favor of the visiting Jaguars.
The Steelers, who seem destined to play the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, will now enter the offseason with a ridiculous amount of questions surrounding the team. It will be a long offseason in the Steel City.