'Any other team would have caved'

JACKSONVILLE _ It was worth one game in the standings, as their six previous victories had been.

But this one, potentially, was different.

Given the 16-0, second-half hole the Steelers had to climb out of and the 10-point deficit they had to overcome late, outlasting the Jaguars, 20-16, with seconds to spare on Sunday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field might just resonate.

"I think what it did, it shows our resilience, our toughness, our never-quit attitude to fight no matter what," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger maintained. "This is one of those games, our offense, we looked terrible, and that's one me. Our defense stepped up huge for us.

"But I kept hearing the defensive guys on the last drive, the last couple series, 'all right, Ben, you got this.' They never stopped believing in us. We believe in them. We thank them for the way they played.

"I hope that if we get in a situation again towards the end of the season where one of us isn't playing well, we can show, 'Hey, remember that game in Jacksonville? It didn't look good until the last eight seconds but we found a way.'

"Hopefully, we can use this."

Game action photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 11 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.

The Steelers trailed, 16-6, with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter when they took possession at their 20-yard line following a punt.

They responded with an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown march, a three-and-out from the defense that got the ball back for the offense with 1:42 left in regulation, and a seven-play, 68-yard drive for the touchdown that ultimately won the game.

There were eight seconds left at the time of the Steelers' final offensive snap, and five seconds remaining when Roethlisberger stretched the ball over the goal line.

The win helped the Steelers pad their lead in the AFC North Division.

It kept them heading in the right direction in their quest to secure a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

It extended their winning streak to six consecutive games.

And they emerged from it all feeling as if they'd made a statement.

"Any other team would have caved," guard Ramon Foster said. "I think it says a lot about our guys.

"We have too much to play for. We're trying to hold onto this run that we're on and we have goals of potentially having a first-round bye. That's our goal right now, win the North, get a bye if we can."

UNSUNG HEROES: Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster finished with eight catches for 104 yards, including a 21-yard, back-shoulder sideline grab on cornerback Jalen Ramsey on the drive that cut the Jacksonville lead to 16-13, and a 35-yard, back-shoulder reception along the sideline on cornerback A.J. Bouye on what became the game-winning march.

"We moved him around and put him in spots to win, and he won for us," Roethlisberger said. "I always give my line the credit, they're the ones that make it go for us. But I think JuJu was kind of the hero."

The Steelers had a couple of the unsung variety, as well.

Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave had four tackles, two sacks and a pass defensed. His afternoon included chasing down running back T.J. Yeldon from behind after rushing the passer on a screen that wound up gaining only 2 yards on third-and-5 from the Steelers' 22-yard line.

"I can say that's one of my best games," Hargrave said. "Everybody on the defensive line had to step up with (defensive end Stephon) Tuitt being out (due to an elbow injury). That was our big focus, kept the momentum up and keep playing hard."

The Steelers allowed a season-high 179 yards rushing, but 141 of those were gained in the first half.

"We started playing team defense," Hargrave said. "Everybody had a part of it. Early in the game, the pile was moving. Later in the game, we started pushing the pile back."

The Steelers also started replacing cornerback Coty Sensabaugh with safety Jordan Dangerfield in the second quarter when Jacksonville went with one-wide receiver sets that featured either three tight ends or two tight ends and a fullback.

Dangerfield finished with one tackle and one assist and played significant snaps on defense.

"Being able to get another body in there, a linebacker type helped out a lot," cornerback Joe Haden said. "Coach comes to us with different gameplans, different personnel (groups) and how he wants to rotate it.

"Whatever he does, we practice it that week and then come out there and execute."

IN BEN THEY TRUST: The Steelers' faith in their quarterback in late-game situations such as the one they faced against the Jaguars is unshakable.

"It's just one of the areas Ben is really good at," offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva said. "I think everybody always talks about Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. They always forget there's a quarterback in Pittsburgh that loves these situations and has a lot of confidence in the way he plays football.

"His teammates love him and support him, and the offense is centered around his leadership, which has been phenomenal this year."

Added guard David DeCastro: "That was up there with one of the best comebacks I've been a part of. That's Ben, man, you can't say enough about Ben. It's so much fun playing with him. I'm lucky to be able to catch him in part of his career and be able to block for him."

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