The Pittsburgh Steelers today play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they are the healthiest they’ve been this season, missing just one player due to injury, though that one player is Marcus Gilbert at right tackle.
Gilbert has been down the past three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury during the fourth quarter of the second game of the season, Chris Hubbard again filling his shoes in his absence. Other notable inactives are James Harrison and Eli Rogers.
The Steelers won the coin toss and deferred. The opening kickoff was fielded mid-deep in the end zone for a touchback. Despite having initial contact in the backfield, Leonard Fournette still managed two yards. On second down, a burst for four yards set up a manageable third-down situation. On the play, Blake Bortles’s pass was incomplete. This was the first opening drive of the season on which they did not score.
Antonio Brown back to receive the punt after a three-and-out called for a fair catch at the 27. Roethlisberger looked for Brown deep on first down and found him for a big gain, getting away with a bit of a pushoff on Jalen Ramsey.
Quickly down to the 23, Roethlisberger pump-faked but threw incomplete. Le’Veon Bell on his first touch showed burst through a hole for 10. On the following play, he pushed the pile ahead for four yards, down inside the 10. Still on the ground, the Jaguars strung out the counter trey to knock Bell out of bounds for a loss of two. Now third and eight, Roethlisberger had to throw. From five wide, he ultimately threw the ball out of bounds. Chris Boswell’s field goal did get them on the board first.
Following another touchback, Fournette was able to shake T.J. Watt on a screen pass to pick up three yards. Javon Hargrave recorded the tackle for no gain to set up a third and long on the next play. Bortles stood tall in the pocket against the blitz, but was able to float the ball down the field to Marquis Lee for a 31-yard gain to the Steelers’ 41.
A short pass looking for Marcedes Lewis was wide and incomplete. Tyson Alualu tackled Fournette for a short gain on second down. Now third and eight, Bortles’ pass was overthrown down the right sideline, incomplete. The Jaguars early just one for three on third down, all throws. The ensuing punt was downed inside the five.
A false start on Bryant packed the Steelers up to the two. He checked out and B.J. Finney came in as eligible. Bell got the ball but for no gain. A checkdown to Bell picked up eight to make it third and four. From the 10, five wide, it was a quick hit to Bell to convert.
Pressure allowed by Hubbard forced Roethlsiberger to scramble for a yard on first down. Bell found space on the left side on second down for 14, his second carry of double-digit yardage of the first period. At the 30, however, he was stuffed for no gain. An end-around for Bryant went for 15, but a hold on the edge by Brown wiped the play out. It was an easy call. Still, it was a spot foul, so it was second and seven. Bell added about four on a screen to the left. Now third and three, the shovel pass to Bell was enough to convert, and he added a little more after a juke.
At the 46, James Conner getting his second snap, he couldn’t get himself open for the screen pass, so Roethlisberger was forced to ground the ball. As he was hit, Roethlisberger tossed an interception to Ramsey looking for Vance McDonald.
With the return, Jacksonville was on the Steelers’ side of the field. Stephon Tuitt made the tackle at the line for no gain, but Allen Hurns was open for 18 over the middle, into field goal range. Fournette closed out the first quarter with a 12-yard burst. After a pair of four-yard runs, Fournette added five to set up a first and goal from the four.
Chris Ivroy was stopped after two yards, but it briefly looked like he would break it. Fournette got in on second down, the Jaguars seizing a 7-3 lead off the Roethlisberger turnover.
Following a poor kick return from JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger went back to Brown for 16 yards. From the 33, Bell got the ball, but just a yard for his efforts. After another run stop, Roethlisberger was dealt a third and seven to contend with. He settled for a short crosser to Bryant well short of the sticks. But at least Jordan Berry got off a good punt that pinned Jacksonville deep.
After a false start pinned them back to the four, Fournette only got half the yardage lost back. On second and 12, he picked up another three with physical running, but still only put the Jaguars in a third and nine. Bortles was able to scramble out of the pocket to escape pressure and was tackled just beyond the sticks. A big letdown from the defense there.
Watt did a great job of getting into the backfield and not allowing Fournette to escape him through a spin move, dropping him for a two-yard loss, but a screen to Lewis added 14. Off play action, Bortles was nearly sacked, but was able to check the ball down and pick up four. After a short gain, Bortles connected in front of Artie Burns to convert.
Following an incompletion on a screen pass, Bortles was able to connect after scrambling to his left to Lee in front of Burns. But Vince Williams got home on the sack the following play for a big loss of 10, beating Fournette in pass protection. The back was stuffed for no gain on second down. After burning another timeout, the Steelers allowed an eight-yard run to Ivory, but it did get them off the field, hitting the two-minute warning.
The Jaguars began that drive, after a penalty, at the two. They put the ball on the five for the Steelers with 1:51 to play in the half with one timeout.
Roethlisberger took a deep shot to Bryant on first down, but the ball was a bit long. Bell was stuffed for no gain and the Jaguars used a timeout, looking to get the ball back. On the screen pass to Brown, he was able to get just enough to convert with Jesse James coming over to lead the way.
From the 15, Roethlisberger shook out of pressure to find Bell, who picked up four. He was tackled immediately but before he had control, so he was able to get up and add three more and get out of bounds. A short throw to Bryant was lost. Ramsey defended the third-down pass to Smith-Schuster to force a punt. Berry from inside his own five punted, the ball taking an ugly bounce forward on the Steelers’ side of the field. Bad punt after a good one. The punter has been inconsistent at best during the regular season.
From the 48, Burns buried Hurns after a short pass for three. After a pass to the tight end, Shazier ripped the ball loose. The ruling was an incomplete pass, and hence an interception (I guess?), but the return was negated, leaving them on their own 39.
With one timeout and 41 seconds remaining, Roethlisberger found Smith-Schuster down the field for 21. After clocking the ball from the Jaguars’ 40, he found Brown for a first, who bounced off of a hit to keep running, getting down to the 17. They used their final timeout with 18 seconds remaining. Roethlisberger checked down to Bell for just one yard because he needed to get out of bounds. With 11 seconds to play, he looked into the end zone in empty space, looking for a flag, but no call on the uncatchable pass. Boswell did connect to make it 7-6 with three seconds remaining.