If you trash talk, you better be able to back those words up. For three quarters, the Jacksonville Jaguars did.
Then came the fourth quarter. And the Jags went away with a whimper. The Pittsburgh Steelers? Boarding the plane with a victory.
That’s why, this year at least, Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh. Poised to win their division, hopefully making one heck of a playoff push. And Jacksonville is Jacksonville. 3-7, their season functionally over.
Ben Roethilsberger cited that trash talk as a little extra motivation to complete the comeback.
“They had a linebacker, #50, we’ll just use numbers so we don’t say names, who wanted to let me know every time I threw an interception,” he said in his post-game press conference. “He found me and told me how many interceptions I threw. It’s a little motivation to to try and win the game.”
That #50, he-who-shall-not-be-named in Roethlisberger’s book, is linebacker Telvin Smith. He’s part of a trash talking defense, led by Jalen Ramsey, with several other players chiming in.
It was Ramsey who said that Roethlisberger was overrated, only made to look good because of guys like Antonio Brown. And while Ramsey certainly played well, picking off two passes, JuJu Smith-Schuster made a clutch back-shoulder catch in the fourth quarter, getting the offense back into a groove to begin their comeback.
“They’re a really good defense. They like to talk a lot. Before the game, during the game. But I’m carrying the game ball home.”
For all of Jacksonville’s bluster, they don’t have the mental toughness the Steelers do. When the game mattered most, they crumbled, and in Bengals-like fashion, hurt themselves with dumb, 15 yard penalties throughout. By Dave Bryan’s count, they ended today with a whopping six of them.
It was Pittsburgh who rose to the moment. As ugly as the first three quarters were, and it was U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi kind of ugly, there’s a resiliency to this team most others don’t have. Ultimately, that’s why they won.
Telvin Smith can remind Ben Roethlisberger how many picks he threw.
Roethlisberger can remind him of how many wins each team came away with.