Jacksonville Jaguars 45
Pittsburgh Steelers 42
Sunday, January 13 th , 1:05 PM EST.
If I were to tell you that Pittsburgh scored forty-two points against the mighty Jaguars defense…
That Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and five touchdowns, more than doubling the production of Blake Bortles and throwing for four more touchdowns…
And was only sacked twice…
You would think that the Steelers had cracked the code and beat the Jaguars by throwing the ball.
You’d be wrong.
The Steelers couldn’t afford to play from behind against this Jacksonville team, but that’s exactly what they had to do when they went down 14-0 in the first quarter, and then 21-0 early in the second. While Ben Roethlisberger had a tremendous stat line and Antonio Brown proved that he’s the best receiver in the league (that conversation is closed now, right?), it simply wasn’t enough to deal with this Jaguars team that seems to have some sort of hex on Mike Tomlin’s Steelers. Blake Bortles played clean and completed passes to nine different receivers. Leonard Fournette did what Leonard Fournette does, he ran for over one hundred yards and scored three times. The Jaguars defense chipped in, scoring on a fifty-yard return from Telvin Smith after a sack/fumble by Yannick Ngakoue. The Jaguars only intercepted Big Ben once, but it was a doozy, coming in the first quarter, deep in Pittsburgh territory with Jacksonville up by seven. Leonard Fournette tip-toed the sideline and found the end zone on the very next play.
Any thoughts of using one of the game’s best rushers against a defense that struggles up the middle were gone by the end of the first quarter. By that time, I think it’s clear that Tomlin and OC Todd Haley had decided that they were simply going to throw the ball all night. Le’veon Bell accounted for sixty-seven yards on the ground, and was utilized more as a passing back for some reason.
This game started to feel out-of- control early, and Pittsburgh played some amazing football to get themselves back within striking distance. Not one, but two tremendous fourth-down, desperation touchdowns brought the Steelers closer, and each seemed like it might be the game changing play that would turn the tide. But the tide simply wouldn’t turn. The Steelers scored twenty-eight points in the second half, but never came all the way back.
It was a harsh ending to a strong season for the Steelers, who once again must to go back to the drawing board to figure out how best to beat their old nemesis, the Patriots and now, the new bullies on the block from Jacksonville.
Image source: twitter.com/Jaguars
Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.