The Pittsburgh Steelers revenge tour ended faster than it began as the team was embarrassed by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 45-42 loss at Heinz Field. While the Steelers planned to defeat the Jaguars first on their revenge tour, the Steelers had to face an even tougher opponent first – themselves. The Steelers struggled as the only consistency the team was able to string together was their struggles in situational football.
Eight for 14. Blake Bortles and the Jaguars converted eight of their 13 third down conversions, gashing the Steelers defense.
Two for four. The Steelers converted just half their fourth down conversions and though two went for touchdowns, the other two were costly. The Steelers failed to convert two fourth and one attempts, which the Jaguars turned into 14 points. Combine this with another 14 points off turnovers, and the Jaguars were gifted 28 points off the Steelers’ own mistakes.
Zero – as in zero sacks for the Steelers defense. Unable to get to Bortles, the quarterback finished with a passer rating over 90.0 and never seemed to lose composure in the pocket.
The Steelers did themselves no favors right off the bat, with the Jaguars taking their opening drive 66 yards before Leonard Fournette went over the top on fourth and goal to put the Jaguars up 7-0. Fournette scored in similar fashion as the Jaguars regular season victory, and this would not be the only similarity as the earlier matchup.
Just like in the first matchup, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted deep in his own end targeting tight end Vance McDonald. The Jaguars would turn that Myles Jack interception into another seven points, jumping out to an early 14-0.
The bleeding would not stop there as after the Steelers drove 50 yards, they faced a crucial 4th and one in Jaguars territory. A questionable playcall to run an outside pitch around the right end would lose Le’Veon Bell yardage and hand the football back to the Jaguars. And just like clockwork, the Jaguars would capitalize, turning this error into another seven points, going up 21-0.
And just when you thought it could not get any worse, a strip sack on Roethlisberger led to a Telvin Smith fumble recovery for another Jaguars touchdown. Though the Steelers were bullied, victimized and flat out dominated in the first half, they only trailed 28-14 after a late touchdown heave to Martavis Bryant.
The Steelers showed signs of life entering the second half, as they quickly scored on their opening drive after a beautiful pass from Roethlisberger was juggled and then caught by Bell in the end zone. Bell finished the day with over 130 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
After all the talk about Antonio Brown’s ankle, the wide receiver hauled in two unbelievable touchdown passes, one to close the Jaguars lead to one score 35-28 in the fourth quarter. But even after all the heroics from Brown and Roethlisberger, who threw five touchdown passes, the Steelers defense was unable to hold Bortles. The Jaguars quarterback cruised down the field with ease, throwing a game clinching touchdown pass to his fullback to put this one out of reach at 42-28.
The Steelers will not get to continue their revenge tour next week against the New England Patriots, instead they will go home and reflect on the season that could have been. Another season in which the likes of Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown could not return a seventh Lombardi trophy to the city of Pittsburgh.