JACKSONVILLE – After winning a game they seemingly had to have, the Steelers left EverBank Field convinced they'll need another victory this coming Sunday in Cleveland every bit as badly.
"As a team we have to stack 'em," nickel back Brice McCain maintained after his fourth-quarter pick-six helped the Steelers hold off the Jaguars, 17-9, on Sunday afternoon. "We can't go one game here, one game there, win, lose. We got to put them together.
"Next week we have another AFC North opponent. We have to put it together like we did this week, get another 'W.'"
McCain wasn't the only player looking ahead to Sunday's rematch with the Browns in the immediate aftermath of Jacksonville.
"We'll see," strong safety Troy Polamalu said, when asked to assess the significance of beating winless Jacksonville a week after losing at home to previously-winless Tampa Bay. "We haven't stacked any victories yet this year."
Defensive end Brett Keisel talked of the importance of approaching the Browns game the way the Steelers had approached the Jaguars game.
"We don't need to lose and have urgency to play our best ball," Keisel insisted. "We have to win and have that same, exact urgency."
That seemed to be a common theme in the visitor's locker room on Sunday afternoon. Still, Keisel was asked if the majority of his teammates knew the importance of such an approach.
"I'll make sure they do," he said.
THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO WORK**
One week after failing to kill the final 1:44 on offense against the Buccaneers, the Steelers burned the remaining 4:05 against the Jaguars.
Their 10-play, game-ending possession included a 9-yard run by running back Le'Veon Bell and a 13-yard reception by tight end Heath Miller. The Steelers lined up initially in an empty set and then motioned Bell back into the backfield prior to both of those critical snaps.
"We kind of had a three-way-option-type play," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger explained. "We started in the spread, didn't get the look (from the defense) that we liked so I brought the running back back in and then we had a two-way (run-pass option)."
The key to the drive, Roethlisberger said, was "making the right decisions and guys making plays to get us first downs."
Added center Maurkice Pouncey, "We got fitted up on blocks, the backs hit it really hard. That's how it's supposed to look in the four-minute (offense)."
ONE HE HAD COMING
The Steelers' decision to throw a short pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown after Brown lined up in the backfield on first-and-10 from the Jacksonville 33-yard line with two minutes remaining and the Jaguars out of timeouts was a little curious but at the same time appropriate, Roethlisberger maintained.
The catch was Brown's fifth of the game and extended his NFL-record streak of catching at least five passes and gaining at least 50 yards receiving to 21 consecutive games.
"We obviously knew we could take a knee," Roethlisberger said. "I went to Coach (Mike Tomlin) and asked if we could do it. I called that specific play because I knew it was kind of an easy one to get him the ball.
"I'm not always a fan of doing things like that because bad things can happen. But a guy like him deserves it because of the work and dedication he brings to this team, to the game, to the organization."
THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO WORK, PART II
McCain's 22-yard pick-sick resulted from a five-man blitz that forced a quick release of a pass on a sideline route that McCain was able to anticipate and attack on second-and-12 from the Jacksonville 15-yard line.
"I expected it to come out over my head but he threw a line drive," McCain said of the pass from quarterback Blake Bortles to wide receiver Allen Hurns. "I happened to be in the right spot at the right time."
Free safety Mike Mitchell appreciated the simplicity of execution that extended all the way to the end zone.
"He did a good job of reading the route and jumping the route and then finishing," Mitchell emphasized. "We preach and practice that so much. The ball hit him in the hands and he caught it. And not only did he catch it but he scored, he finished the play.
"That's the type of play great teams and great secondaries make. They make the ordinary things extraordinary because they finish."
THEY SAID IT
"Losing two in a row anytime is bad. We were able to get off the losing train. We'll take it. Hopefully, we'll be able to start stacking some victories." – Miller on how important it was to win given the Steelers' loss to previously-winless Tampa Bay in their previous effort.
"Jacksonville wanted us to wear black jerseys because it was supposed to be hot, but the Good Lord today was a Steelers fan. He kept it nice and cool for us." – Roethlisberger on surviving the climate.