STEELERS 17, JAGUARS 13
Steelers' record: 4-2
One year ago: 5-1
Series record (including playoffs): Jaguars lead, 12-10
Coach Mike Tomlin, on the significance of the game against the Jaguars: "More than anything, it's nice to be able to pursue back-to-back winning performances. That's what is important for us. Last week was a big week for us – we had a bounce-back performance. This week is an even bigger one, because great teams are capable of stacking a winning performance on top of a winning performance."
The Steelers were dominating this game from the opening kickoff through the first quarter, and three plays into the second quarter they held a 14-0 lead. The Jaguars offense went three-and-out on its next possession, and on the first play after the punt, Rashard Mendenhall burst through the middle and raced 68 yards, and after a facemask penalty the Steelers had a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line. But the Steelers couldn't get the ball into the end zone and had to settle for a 21-yard field goal and a 17-0 lead. That seemed to break their momentum, and the game turned into a pitched battle after that.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
LaMarr Woodley now has 11.5 sacks in his last 13 regular season games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* The Jaguars recorded a couple of first downs on their opening possession, but then a couple of nice individual plays combined to end the march. LaMarr Woodley's sack set up a third-and-12, and then Ike Taylor refused to be blocked on a wide receiver screen to Mike Thomas, the Jaguars were forced to punt.
- The Steelers wanted to build upon the success they had running the ball against the Titans, and they got started toward that goal right away. On their first possession – a 10-play, 87-yard drive to a touchdown – the Steelers gained 37 of those yards on the ground. Rashard Mendenhall carried six times for 26 yards and the 8-yard touchdowns, and Isaac Redman carried once for 11 more.
- Ben Roethlisberger tried to get the ball deep to Mike Wallace on the team's first series, but it was broken up. That didn't happen the next time even though the completion was not nearly as long. Off play-action, Wallace ran past safety Dwight Lowery, and Roethlisberger threw a perfect pass that was good for the 28-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers a 14-0 lead.
- It was a third-and-1 for the Jaguars at their 30-yard line with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. Troy Polamalu shot the gap and dumped Maurice Jones-Drew for no gain, and after a Jaguars punt and a 14-yard return by Antonio Brown the Steelers took over at their 37-yard line.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* On the Jaguars third punt, the Steelers deployed both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders as twin returners. Brown caught the ball and broke to his left and appeared to have a chance to get around the corner and up the field. But the play called was a reverse, and when Sanders got the ball he ran right into the guys who had been chasing Brown.
- Rashard Mendenhall burst through the middle of the Jaguars defense and raced 68 yards to the Jaguars' 2-yard line, but after a run on first down that lost yardage and two incomplete passes, the Steelers settled for a field goal and a 17-0 lead.
- Penalties sabotaged a Steelers offensive possession that had driven to a second-and-5 at the Jacksonville 26-yard line. On that play, Maurkice Pouncey was flagged for holding; and on the next play Jonathan Scott was flagged for illegal-hand-to-the-face, which then put the Steelers at second-and-25 at the Jacksonville 46-yard line. The possession ended with Shaun Suisham missing wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt.
- The Jaguars were in punt formation, in a fourth-and-21 hole at their own 20-yard line. Punter Nick Harris shanked the kick badly, but the Jaguars maintained possession when Ryan Mundy was flagged for roughing the kicker. Later in the same possession, the Jaguars faced another fourth down – fourth-and-3 at the Steelers 42-yard line – and Coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for it. On play-action, Blaine Gabbert couldn't find anyone open, but on a scramble he was able to elude defensive end Ziggy Hood and run for 5 yards to the 39-yard line for the first down. The drive ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Jason Hill, and the score was 17-10 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.
- It was not a good possession by the Steelers, and coming as it did midway though the fourth quarter of a 17-10 lead. A run on first down was stopped for no gain. On second down, Roethlisberger's pass for Mike Wallace was incomplete along the sideline. On third down, DE John Chick beat Max Starks to the outside, and he sacked Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that Trai Essex managed to recover. Then Daniel Sepulveda followed with a 23-yard punt that went out of bounds near midfield.
This was Coach Mike Tomlin's postgame assessment of the injuries the Steelers sustained during the win over the Jaguars: "Doug Legursky has a dislocated toe of some kind. That's being evaluated. Chris Hoke had a stinger. Ryan Clark had a shoulder injury of some kind. That's also being evaluated. Troy Polamalu went out with concussion-like symptom. We wanted to err on the side of caution there. We will get that evaluated and we will find out exactly where he is. That's not a bad laundry list. We will continue on. We will probably continue to get some people back who have been out."