If you’ve been watching, then you just witnessed one of the very worst halves ever quarterbacked by Ben Roethlisberger, who has completed just eight of 19 pass attempts for 53 yards and two interceptions. James Conner has had little room either. The only highlights so far have been a nice catch by James Washington and a two-sack half from Javon Hargrave after Keith Butler realized that Daniel McCullers wasn’t helping stop the Jaguars’ previously bad rushing offense.
Did I mention Jacksonville is playing with three backup offensive linemen? Yeah, things are not good. The only saving grace is that Blake Bortles has been terrible, and their drives have stalled in or near the red zone, resulting in them settling for three field goals so far. The Steelers begin the second half with the football. So at least they have that going for them.
Conner was stopped after a two-yard gain on first down, followed by a bubble screen to Xavier Grimble for three. Roethlisberger was under pressure and couldn’t find an open man for yet another three-and-out. Jordan Berry’s punt from his own 30 reached the 26, where it was fair caught.
Leonard Fournette’s first carry of the second half added five yards. Hargrave was in on the tackle for a three-yard gain. On third and two, Fournette was stopped short, but they were flagged for holding anyway. And Tomlin accepted the penalty, despite the fact that it would have been fourth down. But it worked out. T.J. Watt got the strip sack, his ninth of the year, but Jacksonville recovered. Switzer’s return came out to the Steelers’ 45.
Roethlisberger was spared of a third interception because of a roughing the passer penalty on Calais Campbell. It looked to be a bad call. Instead of a midfield turnover, they move up to the Jaguars’ 40. Then a personal foul on Telvin Smith moved them into field goal range. The Steelers are getting very lucky on this drive from the officials.
From the 22, Roethlisberger slipped a bobbling pass to Conner for four yards. He somehow found space for eight yards down to the 11. Staying on the ground, Conner was limited to about two. Jalen Ramsey intercepted him in the end zone looking for Brown, ruining yet another drive.
Bortles under pressure got a pass off to Fournette in space for 26 yards near midfield. He was stopped for a gain of just one after that, and Watt made the stop on second down. Now third down and seven, Bortles was able to convert to D.J. Chark against Joe Haden.
Now across midfield, Carlos Hyde added four yards up the middle. Adding three more to the 34, Bortles on third and three spun out of a would-be Hargrave sack to scramble for the first down to the 24. Then he hit Fournette for a 20-yard pass down to the four-yard line. Fournette got two from there on first down, and got in one play layer to make it 16-0.
After a false start and a short catch by Switzer, Roethlisberger bought all kinds of time, on which Brown finally got free, wide open for what ended up as a 78-yard touchdown. The two-point attempt was tipped at the line of scrimmage, incomplete, keeping it a two-possession game, now down by 10 at 16-6.
Terrell Edmunds was in on the tackle at the line of scrimmage on Fournette. Cameron Heyward buried him for a loss to end the third quarter. Now third and 11, Bortles dumped off a short pass for seven yards on a check down to punt. Switzer back deep in his own end was tackled immediately after fielding the ball at the 17.
Following a short three-yard completion to Brown to the 20, Roethlisberger misfired in his direction on a short out route. Looked like he was trying to pull the ball back in late. Now third and seven, he was sacked for a big loss, giving them no choice but to punt from back at the 11. Berry’s punt only reached the Jaguars’ 48 and was returned to the Steelers’ 41, so that couldn’t have gone much worse. Time is quickly running out, and the Jaguars start their next drive near field goal range.
After a three-yard run, Bortles looked for the play-action pass, but Heyward dominated his matchup and Vince Williams finished with the sack for a 10-yard loss. Now third and 17 from the 48, Heyward finished with yet another sack to force a punt from the 45, the punt only reaching the 30 or so on a favorable bounce.
From the 29, Roethlisberger barely got off a wobbly pass Switzer picked off the ground, getting up and running for 10. A short gain to Smith-Schuster added six. Ben found him again for the first down. From the Jaguars’ side, A.J. Bouye broke up a pass for Brown. Yannick Ngakoue dropped him for a big loss of eight on the following play. Now third and 18, Roethlisberger had to scramble out of intense pressure just to find Switzer for about 13 yards. On fourth and five, Roethlisberger was slow to look to Conner to the left, but when he finally did, the back dropped the ball, resulting in a turnover on downs. The chances of coming back are now becoming perilously thin.
Taking over from their own 43, Fournette was stopped on first down for a short loss. After another stop, on third and 11, Hargrave passed down the pass to force a three-and-out. Switzer faked a fair catch to bait the gunners to let up, earning a touchback.
Roethlisberger struggled to find anybody open before finding Conner for a five-yard dumpoff. Brown was hit awkwardly at the end of a four-yard gain for a facemask penalty. Smith-Schuster got nine across midfield. He came up with a big catch against Ramsey down the left sideline down to the 26. A third straight catch picked up eight. From the 18, Roethlisberger overthrew him this time in the end zone. On third and one, Conner got the first down on a catch but failed to get out of bounds. Vance McDonald made a fantastic touchdown catch to make is a three-point game with 2:28 remaining.
Fournette picked up four yards on the final play before the two-minute warning. He picked up one more to set up third and five with 1:55 to go after the Steelers used their first timeout. Williams stopped him on third and five, giving the offense, with one timeout in their pocket, 1:42 to play, starting at the 32.
A quick short to Conner picked up seven yards in three seconds. He hit a deep pass to Smith-Schuster over Bouye down to the 27. A short incompletion to Conner that he wasn’t looking for preceded a dropped touchdown pass by Conner, breaking free. Roethlisberger hit Brown on a pick route against Ramsey down to the two. Roethlisberger clocked it with 22 seconds left. Roethlisberger threw an interception, but Switzer had his helmet pulled for a penalty.
A defensive holding penalty put the ball on the half-yard line. Looking like he wanted a shovel pass, Roethlisberger ended up running it in himself for his third rushing touchdown of the season, his head bouncing off of Matt Feiler’s ass. Boswell made it 20-16.
The game ended with the Steelers’ sixth sack of the afternoon with Watt getting another strip sack, his 10th of the year.