It’s true. It’s a fact.
It doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish.
And for the Steelers, they finished in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 20-16, for their sixth straight win. The victory improves their record to 7-2-1, and 15-1-1 on the road in their last 17 games, keeping them on top of the AFC North.
“Really, really awesome fight and the bottom line in our business is winning. We took care of business,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “Style points were ugly, or quite few, but we got the job done.
“You just grow when you are faced with adversity like this in a hostile environment and you are not playing great and you find ways to get it done. From that standpoint really excited. We have some lessons to learn. You tip your cap to that group, particularly their defense. We got a big play and that got us back into it.
“I also tip the cap to our defense. They were put in some tough situations. They were out there a lot of snaps. They didn’t blink. They held the fort until our offense got going. Then with No. 7 you have a chance.
“I am really proud of the group.”
The Jaguars dominated in the first half, but while the defense bent, they didn’t break.
Jacksonville had 169 yards of total offense in the half, including 141 yards on the ground. They controlled the clock, with 22:15 time of possession to the Steelers 7:45. But at halftime all they had were three field goals, a credit to the defense.
The Steelers offense managed just 66 yards in the half, with only 13 on the ground. Ben Roethlisberger completed just 8 of 19 passes for 52 yards and two interceptions and a 10.1 rating.
But in the end, it was the Steelers who would win the stats battle.
The Steelers fought back from a 16-0 deficit, scoring 20 unanswered points, to pull out the win.
Roethlisberger more than rebounded, finishing the day completing 27 of 47 pass attempts for 314 yards and two touchdown passes. Antonio Brown had five catches for 117 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown, while JuJu Smith-Schuster had eight receptions for 104 yards.
Roethlisberger also engineered a game-winning touchdown drive, taking over with 1:42 to play in the game. He hit Smith-Schuster for 35 yards, and Brown for 25 to the two-yard line. And with just eight seconds on the clock he took it himself, extending every inch of his body for a one-yard touchdown.
“I think I actually hurt the team more most of the game,” said Roethlisberger, who said he was taking the football home with him. “It’s really how you finish. So many guys stepped up today. Guys never quit. We fought until the end. We got down the field. Guys made plays.”
The defense shut down the Jaguars in the second half, allowing just 38 yards rushing. They silenced Blake Bortles, who completed just 10 passes for 104 yards and was sacked six times, including two each by Javon Hargrave and T.J. Watt, and one by Cameron Heyward and Vince Williams.
“We got the job done in the second half,” said Hargrave.
The Jaguars got on the board first when Josh Lambo connected on a 48-yard field goal early in the second quarter. On the drive the Jaguars pounded it on the ground, with 13 running plays on the 15-play drive. The Jaguars held the ball for 8:57, with four different players carrying the ball, including Blake Bortles on a scramble.
After a three-and-out, that netted -1 yards, the Jaguars got the ball back, and kept moving it on the ground. But again, the defense got stingy when it mattered most, holding the Jaguars to another field goal, down 6-0 in the second quarter.
Roethlisberger went to work out of the shotgun and with an empty backfield, and the Jaguars knew it was going in the air and made it count. Jalen Ramsey intercepted Roethlisberger’s pass, which was intended for Brown, giving the Jaguars the ball right back.
Again, the defense held when they needed to. Hargrave sacked Bortles on third-and-nine, and again the Jaguars had to settle for a Lambo field goal to extend the lead to 9-0.
The Steelers, with the aid of two penalties that netted 30 yards including a roughing the passer call on Calais Campbell, got into the red zone for the first time in the game on their second drive of the third quarter. On second-and-10 from the 11-yard line, Roethlisberger went to Brown in the end zone, but he was blanketed by Ramsey who came up with his second interception of the game, the third one thrown by Roethlisberger.
The interception proved to be costly. Bortles drove the Jaguars down to the two-yard line, where Leonard Fournette went airborne for the touchdown, extending the lead to 16-0. The 10-play, 80-yard drive was highlighted by completions to Fournette of 20 and 26 yards.
Just when the Steelers needed a big play, they got one. And no surprise who it was. Roethlisberger went deep to Brown, who caught it at the 35-yard line and took it into the end zone for a 78-yard scoring strike. The two-point conversion attempt to Jesse James failed, but the Steelers cut into the lead, 16-6.
The defense responded, holding the Jaguars on the ensuing drive. But when the offense got the ball back, they couldn’t muster anything. Campbell shut the door on the drive when he sacked Roethlisberger for a loss of nine yards, forcing a punt.
Sacks by Vince Williams and Cameron Heyward shut down the Jaguars drive, giving the Steelers another shot.
The offense was able to move the chains, but Roethlisberger was sacked, setting up a third-and-18. Ryan Switzer pulled in a 12-yard reception, and the Steelers went for it on fourth-and-six. Conner wasn’t able to hold on to the sideline pass, and they turned the ball over on downs.
Another huge series by the defense, forcing a three-and-out, gave the offense another shot at it.
With 5:06 to play, starting at their own 20-yard line, the Steelers went to work. A 15-yard facemask call gave them a first down at the 44-yard line. Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for three straight passes, nine, 21 and nine yards. Roethlisberger capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald, pulling them within a score, 16-13.
The defense did their job, holding the Jaguars and forcing a three-and-out.
With one final shot at it, Roethlisberger went to work. And boy did he work. He hit Smith-Schuster for 35 yards and Brown for 25 yards to the two-yard line. Steelers Nation collectively held their breath on an apparent interception in the end zone, but a facemask call negated the play. A defensive holding call gave the Steelers the ball at the half yard line. And it was all Roethlisberger. He took it himself, extending his body and putting the ball over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown with five seconds to play.
GAME PHOTOS: Week 11 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Game action photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 11 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.
A detailed look at the scoring:
Second Quarter: Steelers 0, Jaguars 3
Scoring Play: Josh Lambo 48-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 15-64-8:57
Second Quarter: Steelers 0, Jaguars 6
Scoring Play: Josh Lambo 38-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 6-38-3:28
Second Quarter: Steelers 0, Jaguars 9
Scoring Play: Josh Lambo 43-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 9-22-4:46
Third Quarter: Steelers 0, Jaguars 16
Scoring Play: Leonard Fournette two-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Summary: 10-80-5:50
Third Quarter: Steelers 6, Jaguars 16
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 78-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. Two-point conversion failed.
Scoring Summary: 2-79-0:52
Fourth Quarter: Steelers 13, Jaguars 16
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 11-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald.
Scoring Summary: 8-80-2:38
Fourth Quarter: Steelers 20, Jaguars 16
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger one-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Summary: 7-68-1:37