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Steelers vs. Jaguars: 4 Winners and 4 Losers in the Steelers’ season-ending loss to Jacksonville

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The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, and it’s time to see who played well and who left much to be desired.

Divisional Round - Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After each game, there are some players who impress and others who disappoint. This is where our weekly Winners and Losers column was born. Sometimes being labeled a loser is a bit harsh, but invariably there are players in each game who simply don’t measure up to “the standard”.

Time to diagnose who falls into which category for the Pittsburgh Steelers after their season-ending loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

WINNERS

Antonio Brown

In case you didn’t already think Brown was a freak of nature from another planet, he, clearly not 100-percent, went out and had 7 catches for 132-yards and 2 touchdowns. If it weren’t for Brown, the Steelers wouldn’t have been in their particular playoff scenario. Brown is hands-down the best wide receiver in the league, and will be a large part of the team moving forward.

Vance McDonald

Whenever I think of McDonald’s first few games in Pittsburgh, I think of the fan reaction when he couldn’t hold onto the ball. Fast forward to the end of the season, and McDonald was a huge factor in the running game, and capped off his first season in Pittsburgh with 10 catches for 112-yards. Quite the turnaround for McDonald, and if he is back next season the team has a very dynamic tight end on their roster.

Ben Roethlisberger

Yes, his two turnovers were bad, but Roethlisberger’s performance Sunday at Heinz Field was vintage Big Ben. When the team needed big plays, it was Roethlisberger who delivered. Finishing the game with 469-yards and 5 touchdowns, Roethlisberger wasn’t the reason the Steelers lost the game. When I think back on Roethlisberger’s career, when it is all said and done, I will think about plays like his scramble for a first down on the last meaningful drive, and the lateral back to Bell for a touchdown. Just tremendous plays from a guy who never quits and has a knack for the dramatic.

Le’Veon Bell

Was it Bell’s last game in a Steelers uniform? No one knows, but Bell certainly did his job on a day when the team fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter. Finishing with 16 carries for 67-yards, and 9 receptions for 88 yards, with two touchdowns. Bell is a tremendous player, and, if you ask me, the team will need him back for this team to stand a chance of winning it all next season.

LOSERS

Mike Tomlin

I am not one to blame coaches, but there were some huge decisions which came back to kick the Steelers in the behind. The worst decision of all, in my opinion, was the onside kick in the fourth quarter. It showed a genuine lack of trust in his players, and it ultimately gift-wrapped the win for the Jaguars. This wasn’t the only questionable decision, turning away points to go for it on fourth down, on more than one occasion, and at a time when the Steelers needed a prepared, and focused, start to the game, they were anything but — and that is a slap in the face of the man in charge.

Todd Haley

When I think about the loss to the Jaguars, the failed fourth-and-short situations will always come to mind. The jet sweep plays against a fast and aggressive defense epitomize Haley simply out-thinking himself, on more than one occasion. Haley isn’t fully to blame for the team’s loss, they did score 42-points, but his situational football sense needs some serious help. For the first time in a long time, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Haley let go when the offseason officially settles in.

Keith Butler

What is the identity of Butler’s defense? He certainly doesn’t lean on the blitz, the team struggles to stop the run and gives up big plays far too often. That, in a nutshell, describes Butler’s 2017 defense, and that is never a good thing. I realize Butler isn’t the one out there making tackles and following their assignments to a ‘T’, but the plan they had in place screamed of ignorance. You really didn’t think Blake Bortles would ever throw? And if he did, he wouldn’t be checking it down to the flat? C’mon man...unacceptable. Just as I could see Haley gone, I could see some defensive upheaval as well.

The Entire Defense

I could have put all 11 players on this list. For the first time this season, the Steelers did not register a sack in a game. Not only that, they didn’t cause the Jaguars to have one negative play. Not ONE! No tackles for loss, no sacks — nothing. The Steelers defense didn’t just come out unprepared, they seriously had no clue what their assignments were on a ton of different occasions, after having an extra week to prepare. As I stated earlier, coming into a game not thinking the Jaguars wouldn’t ever throw is a slap in the face of a team in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs. This defense gave up 38-points, not counting the scoop-and-score touchdown, to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense. This quite possibly could have been the most pathetic defensive performance I can remember in the Keith Butler era.

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That’s a wrap on this season, and I know you all will give your thoughts in the comment section below. Fire away, and realize BTSC should be your go-to spot for the best Steelers coverage on the web throughout the offseason.