The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to hold on to get the 16-15 victory in week two of the preseason, despite some sloppy play, including six penalties and only 24 rushing yards. The defense was able to hold Jacksonville to field goals overall and stiffen up to end the game, with a big interception from cornerback Justin Layne setting up a great closing drive from the offense and quarterback Mason Rudolph. In this article I will provide data from Pro Football Focus and takeaways from watching the film.
Let’s start with the offense:
PFF’s highest grade on offense was wide receiver Tyler Vaughns (91.5), on ten quality snaps in the fourth quarter including two back-to-back explosive catches. Wide receiver Chase Claypool was up next at 83.2, also with an explosive catch and saw him in the slot primarily. The final player with a +80 grade was quarterback Mason Rudolph (80.1), and really thought he performed well to close out the game going 17/21 for 127 yards and a touchdown. All three quarterbacks being above a 75 grade is very encouraging, and love that the competition is competitive with no one clearly struggling. The lowest graded player was H-back Connor Heyward (28.9), and some underwhelming performances from wide receiver Gunner Olszewski (37.1), running back Benny Snell (44.4), and the offensive line in general. Four of the five starters are on the bottom right of the graph and agree that tackle Chukwuma Okorafor being the only above the line starter.
Pittsburgh’s offense came onto the field first, where tackle Dan Moore and center Mason Cole were pushed back, leading to a quick swing pass behind the line from quarterback Mitch Trubisky to Snell who ran for four yards. On second and six, Moore was beat and allowed a QB hit on Trubisky, which he was encouragingly able to shake out of, roll to his left, and target wide receiver Diontae Johnson but unable to connect on the scramble drill. Third and six now, and despite the pocket collapsing from Moore, guard James Daniels, and Okorafor especially being pushed back, got a nice throw off deep to Claypool from the slot (where he aligned on all plays thus far) to his back shoulder for the explosive catch of 29 yards.
The following first down was a run to Snell where Daniels and guard Kendrick Green got beat allowing their men to converge and make the tackle for a loss of three. On second and 13 Kendrick Green got man-handled along with Moore being pushed back, forcing Trubisky to display his quality escape-ability once again as he ran for his life to scramble for ten yards. Third and three now, and once again Moore got pushed back once again forcing Trubisky to step up, spin away from two Jaguars defenders to roll out again and get a good pass off to Diontae Johnson that went off his hands on the sideline incomplete. Rough start for the o-line and Moore in general, particularly struggling against Jaguars edge rusher Josh Allen. Have to keep the quarterback cleaner but encouraging scrambling from Trubisky and an explosive pass. This set up a field goal attempt that was unexpectedly missed to leave the scoreboard empty.
The offense returned after trading missed field goals with Jacksonville at 9:31. They started with a Snell toss, where tight end Pat Freiermuth and Okorafor pulled in front, with the latter overrunning a defender affecting the running angle, forcing the cutback where Jaguars first overall pick Travon Walker easily beat the block in a favorable matchup against Olszewski to tackle the loss of one. On second and 11, Trubisky got a good pass off despite Moore letting Allen get to the quarterback again, but Snell dropping the pass at the line of scrimmage off his hands. Third and 11 now, and the common theme unfortunately continues, Moore losing his base on a good punch from edge rusher Arden Key, and Trubisky can’t escape this time and gets sacked on the money down. Also noted guard Kevin Dotson ‘blocking air’ and needing to find work on a couple plays. Three and out, still scoreless.
With 2:16 left in the first quarter, down by three, the offense started with a give to Snell, and while he didn’t have a ton of running room, noted more space straight ahead behind the interior (Cole, Dotson, Daniels) but tried to bounce outside tight end Kevin Rader’s block where there was a free defender to tackle the two-yard gain. On second and eight, Pittsburgh went play action, getting the linebackers to bite creating space for Diontae Johnson’s slant over the middle despite Allen getting close to Trubisky again, (winning inside Freiermuth and pushing Rader back on his pulling block) for the catch for 16 yards.
The following first down was the first Pittsburgh penalty, a very questionable pass interference call on Diontae Johnson where the defender appeared to trip, negating the first down catch. This set up first and 20 where running back Jaylen Warren got the carry, with a good combo block from Cole and Dotson, Daniels providing a good seal, and Moore working to the second level but running between two defenders blocking neither allowing them to converge for the four-yard tackle. On second and 16, Trubisky quick triggered to Warren open on the short flat route and run for the six-yard gain.
The drive continued to start the second quarter facing third and ten, Jacksonville played off coverage prompting Trubisky to take the short dump off to Warren, who forced one missed tackle on his third touch in a row but can only gain five yards on the third down fail. Unfortunate penalty call stalls the drive, still down by three.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett entered the game with 6:00 in the second quarter, throwing his first pass right away, sliding to the left and completing to wide receiver George Pickens who got open on a short stick route and run for six yards, despite pressure in his face from Kendrick Green being rocked back off the line. On second and four, Pittsburgh was penalized for an illegal shift with two men in motion. The following play was also penalized, an offensive holding on Daniels who was beat, negating a would be first down on a nice throw and route between two defenders to Claypool. Third and 18 now, and Daniels and Moore allowed pressure on the short throw to McFarland, who tries to fight for yards but stopped for only seven. 1/5 on third down thus far, three and out, still down six.
The offense got one more opportunity before halftime with 1:05 on the clock, with a nice read and throw by Pickett to Diontae Johnson for the catch and run, nearly breaking it for more on the strong 17-yard gain. The following first down Kendrick Green got embarrassingly beat off the line allowing a big hit on Pickett, who was still able to get the short pass to Freiermuth for the catch and churn for the ten yards. This sets up the third first down in a row, where Pickett spiked the ball with 41 seconds left. On second and ten, Freiermuth was the target again, who was wide open up the seam of a three-bunch formation, great call and explosive catch and run for 24 yards! Following a timeout with 29 seconds left, the penalties continued, an offsetting offsides/hold that negated a beautiful off-platform back shoulder throw and would-be touchdown to Diontae Johnson. On second and ten, Pickett threw quick to Snell who was wide open on the flat route, able to run one-on-one with a great forced missed tackle and dive into the end zone for the score! Great drive and overall play from Pickett and company, seeing him target more areas of the field, 7-6 Steelers.
Pittsburgh’s first offensive drive of the second half began at 13:37, a run in which Daniels got beat off the line and Dotson unable to reach his second level block, but Warren able to force misses on but defenders to churn for a well deserved one yard. On second and nine, Rudolph threw his first pass was a five-yard out to Olszewski who was given ample cushion but tackled at the catch point on the six-yard gain. Third and three now, and the entire o-line (especially Moore) were pushed back, with Rudolph triggering short to Pickens, but no additional yards due to a solid reaction and immediate hit for no gain. Three and out, still up by one.
With ten minutes in the third quarter, running back Anthony McFarland had nowhere to go, and important note is some backup lineman came in this series. On second and nine, guard John Leglue got beat, forcing Rudolph to throw it away, but unfortunately penalized for the intentional grounding, leading to the safety. Field position proves huge, and we continue to see sloppy plays at times, hurt once again by the offensive line and penalties. This flips the one-point lead to Jacksonville.
The offense returned with 5:19 left in the third quarter, starting with a Warren run that went for a loss of two due to Moore getting pushed back and Dotson unable to create movement on his pulling block. On second and 12, Pittsburgh had another penalty, this time on an illegal formation. This set up second and 17, a short pass at the line of scrimmage to Zach Gentry, who split two defenders and churned for extra yards on the gain of eight. Third and nine now, Rudolph gets the pass off despite Leglue getting pushed back, short to Warren on a crosser with room to run, gaining 14 and converting.
The following first down was another successful jet sweep to wide receiver Steven Sims, something that worked in the first preseason game as well for 11 yards, with H-back Connor Heyward out in front but not reaching a block as Sims cut back, and thought Rudolph disguised the handoff and the fake to the running back afterward extremely well. First down again, with Sims getting another touch, in the air this time with Rudolph drifting right and making the throw and nice play to toe tap along the sideline for the five-yard completion. On second and five, McFarland gets the carry following a fake jet sweep but no hole, especially from Leglue and center J.C. Hassenauer, no gain. Third and five now, McFarland helps in pass pro with the blitz coming, and Rudolph finds Sims on the stop route but it’s short of the sticks on a strong tackle. Pittsburgh decides to go for it on fourth and one, giving the jet sweep to Olszewski but Rader was beat on his block and ended up holding, affecting his cuts and good effort eluding for the first but ends up frustratingly coughing up the football in the process. Failed conversion with a turnover, still down one.
Pittsburgh’s offense returned at 12:09 down by eight, Rudolph drops back with pressure allowed by tackle Trent Scott and Hassenauer, gets the dump off screen to Durant behind the line, able to find a cutback lane for positive yards on the gain of three. On second and seven, Heyward gets the target off play action pulling across the formation (reoccurring concept from last game) but only able to gain two yards. Third and five now, and the penalty flags fly again with offsetting holding calls on both clubs, negating a good deep throw to Heyward that he couldn’t grab. Third and five redo, and wide receiver Miles Boykin created good physical separation at the end of his route for the catch and nine-yard gain for the conversion.
Pittsburgh continued on first down in the air, with Rudolph sliding left and hitting the quick out to Tyler Snead who turns up field for additional yards on the gain of seven. On second and three, the Steelers ran the same play to the other side with Tyler Vaughns making the catch for five yards. The following first down was a run to Durant, who fumbled the ball off the exchange, but luck bounce landing right back to him in the running great lane created by Scott, Hassenauer, and Kendrick Green working on the second level. On second and three, Snead got another catch on the same roll quick out pass but to the right this time, gaining a healthy nine yards.
The following first down was a carry for newly acquired running back Max Borghi for only one yard, with Kendrick Green and also new face in guard William Dunkle allowing their men to get in on the tackle. On second and nine, Rudolph took a shot to the end zone looking for Vaughns but was overthrown incomplete. Third and nine now, and Rudolph throws quick with a free pash rusher nearing him, finding Durant at the line of scrimmage but unable to get the first. Noted a big miss here with Heyward wide open short on the other side, unfortunate miss. This forced a field goal that cut the deficit to five.
3:03 left, down five. Need some big plays after the interception for a comeback. First and ten did not disappoint, with a Rudolph target to Vaughns on a stop route just past the sticks, making the catch and spins out of the first tackle, then cuts inside for additional yards for an explosive 25-yard gain. The following first down was another Vaughns catch, with the defensive back giving too much separation for the easy throw and catch well past the sticks, also making another man miss for a couple more yards inside the ten.
This set up first and goal, with Rudolph in an empty set and targets wide receiver Cody White on a slant in the end zone incomplete with good coverage, noted the pass could have led the receiver more. On second and goal, Rudolph targeted Vaughns again, trying a back shoulder throw toward the front pylon but good coverage and incomplete. Third and goal now, and Vaughns is the guy in Rudolph’s sights again, getting the catch on rub action with a short slant and additional yards, but only able to get it to the one, forcing fourth and goal. Rudolph makes an excellent throw here to Snead who ran the out route from the slot for the huge comeback score! Pittsburgh goes for two to try and make it a three-point lead, but this unfortunately failed on a high throw to Heyward, catchable but through his hands incomplete. Lead is one, two minutes left, defenses turn to step up.
Now for the defense:
PFF’s highest graded defender was cornerback Chris Steele (83.2), who played 19 snaps and fared well in coverage including a pass breakup. Edge rusher Genard Avery was up next (82.3), showing encouraging skills primarily as a pass rusher, repeatedly showing up in my notes below. Safety Terrell Edmunds was the third and final player with a +80 grade (81.9), providing strong play as a tackler at or behind the line a few times. While I don’t agree with all the grades, I do concur that the linebackers were better overall, including Mark Robinson, Robert Spillane, with Devin Bush (78.4) and bit high and Myles Jack way too low (44.9), and thought defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal (49.3) and edge rusher T.J. Watt (47.6) were better than their grades in my opinion. Safety Tre Norwood had the lowest grade (42.7) and agree with struggles from cornerback Cameron Sutton (45.9), and defensive lineman Khalil Davis (45.8).
Pittsburgh’s defense came on for the first time at 11:44, defending a pass on first down where it was great to see Watt’s excellent get off for the first time this preseason, and cornerback Levi Wallace was targeted but showed great read and react to hit the receiver at the catch point affecting the incompletion. On second and ten Jacksonville went to the ground for the first time, blocked with defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi impressively throwing his lineman off to tackle the five-yard gain. Third and five now, and Avery timed the snap well with good get off speed on the shotgun pass, but too much separation was allowed in zone coverage for the easy completion at the sticks plus more for 13 yards where Bush and Sutton made the tackle. Curious scheme call there.
The following first down was another pass, this time deep over the middle where defensive lineman Chris Wormley won on and inside counter to get to the quarterback, and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon shadowing the receiver with great single coverage on the slightly overthrown ball. On second and ten Jacksonville threw a quick screen where Sutton set the edge well forcing the receiver inside but unable to get off the block, and Bush was able to work horizontally and stay clean to make the tackle on the six-yard gain. Third and four now, and Avery provided another good pass rush with good get off and push, with the throw on the out route high of the receiver with Sutton a step behind in coverage. Good overall start for the starting defense, holding to a field goal attempt that was ultimately missed. No score.
The defense returned quickly at 8:06 after the offenses three and out, game still tied. The Jaguars started off with a run where Edmunds burst into the backfield from the box to set the edge and make a great play along with linebacker Myles Jack staying clean to combine for the tackle for no gain. Second and 11 was another run where Avery was sealed along with Wormley by the tight end, and Ogunjobi did a great job working through traffic and off his blocker for another run tackle on the gain of three. Third and eight now, Watt and Avery got around the edge on their rush but pushed past the pocket, with Wormley getting a good push, but quarterback Trevor Lawrence using his eyes to deceive safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on the throw to the wide-open receiver, and finally tackled by Sutton and Wallace for 16 yards. Too much separation allowed on third down again in zone coverage.
The drive continued with Watt providing great acceleration of the ball and an excellent dip move to get the sack for a loss of five. On second and 15 it was back to the ground, pulling the guard and center who pancaked Sutton and the former double teaming edge rusher Derrek Tuszka (showed great effort to nearly make a tackle) to create a seam outside of Wormley, who was unable to free up from his blocker, with Bush able to do so to combine with Watt for the tackle but seven-yard gain. Third and eight now, Avery had a good bull to inside move but lost his footing, still able to force Lawrence to leave the pocket but ample room to scramble for the easy conversion and 12-yard gain where Edmunds ran him out of bounds. Second conversion on third and long on the drive with chunk yards.
Another first down, this time a run up the middle where defensive lineman Tyson Alualu was triple teamed and ended up on the ground, Tuszka was pushed back, defensive tackle Carlos Davis worked off his block well but missed a diving tackle attempt along with Fitzpatrick, and Jack was able to work off his block late to make the tackle but a nine-yard gain. On second and one, Jacksonville was charged with a holding penalty drawn by Avery and while there was no play, Fitzpatrick came free on the blitz but was unable to get the sack. Second and 11 this time, Avery was arguably held again, along with good push from defensive lineman Isaiaah Loudermilk on the short pass where Jack provided sticky coverage on the slot receiver for the immediate tackle at the catch point of 5 yards. Hope to see this translate to the regular season knowing linebackers are put in this situation in Pittsburgh. Third and six now, and Avery stays on his feet following a chip attempt to get a quarterback hit, affecting the pass that luckily falls incomplete on an overthrow, considering Sutton lost his footing and was beat by a step. Good close to the long drive, Jaguars get the field goal and three-point lead.
The defense returned with 14:08 in the second quarter still down by three. Jacksonville went play action on first down where Witherspoon did a good job peeling off the deep route to come up for the solid tackle on the short receiver for three yards. On second and seven, Ogunjobi didn’t seem to locate the ball on the handoff working outside the blocker creating a lane, along with Jack missing a tackle opportunity at the line of scrimmage, allowing a big ten-yard gain where linebacker Robert Spillane and safety Damontae Kazee combined for the tackle. The following first down was another run, this time for only three with Alualu working off his block despite being initially double teamed to make the tackle. On second and seven Sutton nearly made a great leaping interception from his slot corner drop but just out of his reach on the catch for 16 near the sideline.
The following first down was a run where Edmunds worked toward the line of scrimmage pre-snap and came free on the edge blitz, along with Ogunjobi working of his block well to combine for the tackle for no gain. On second and ten, Wormley had great burst countered from inside out to get near Lawrence’s throw, Jack bit on the play action enough to allow the receiver past him, but good job by Spillane to react off his zone drop to tackle the catch immediately though the catch went for ten yards. Edmunds had good penetration on the following first down run, meeting the ballcarrier in the backfield who was able to fight forward for extra yards and gain three, nearly breaking the tackle. On second and seven Tuszka and Sutton came free on the blitz as Lawrence play action roled toward them, but Witherspoon was late to react to the running back route that was wide open for the catch and run of 12.
The drive continued with its fifth first down, a run where Spillane read the play taking a nice angle and staying clean to make the tackle for only one. On second and nine, Alualu was able to provide a batted pass and incompletion. Third and nine now, and Lawrence was able to find the spot in the zone again, with Jack dropping and guessing the shorter receiver, then reacting to the pass with a leaping bat/interception attempt out of his reach on the open explosive catch for 22 yards where Edmunds was late in coverage and Wallace made the tackle.
This set up the long drive in the red zone, starting with a first down run where Leal worked around two blockers to get penetration but couldn’t make the play behind the line, edge rusher Hamilcar Rashed being boxed out like a rebounder in basketball, with defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux working off his block and Spillane staying free to combine on the three yard tackle. On second and seven, Mondeaux won his matchup for the second straight play against the run, combining with Kazee who came free from the box for the tackle of two yards. Third and five now, and the sweep run fake got the whole defensive line to bite, including Avery who slipped, delaying his pursuit along with Leal on the corner endzone pass falling incomplete with cornerback Carlins Platel in coverage. Discouraging long drive but hold them to a field goal, down by six.
The defense returned with 3:42 in the second quarter to a run, where Avery did a good job working off blockers and traffic but missed the tackle in the backfield, noting good team effort and pursuit, including Bush who took the correct angle staying free and good finish on the tackle for no gain. On second and ten Lawrence threw a quick slot screen, with Kazee recognizing and coming downhill well and getting to the receiver but churned for extra yards, where Tuszka came to assist in tackling the six-yard gain. Third and four now, Delontae Scott got a good push on his pass rush near Lawrence on his release on the low sideline throw, with Wallace in great coverage but an even better catch by the receiver for 11 yards and the first down. The following first down was a nice run stop for no gain, where Leal ended up on the ground but was part of cutting of the running lanes due to Scott and Rashed converging from the edge.
The drive continued at the two-minute warning, where Edmunds timed his blitz well but worked in Jacksonville’s favor throwing the screen, with Spillane having a chance to make a short yardage tackle but blocked last second, allowing the ten-yard gain. The following first down Rashed provided pressure on the throw, along with Wormley converging late on his twist rush, and Spillane had great coverage taking the short crossing route across the field and immediate tackle for only three. On second and seven, the pass was incomplete on a low throw, with Scott displaying good hand use and getting near Lawrence on the play. Third and seven now, Lawrence has time to throw initially, then is ran out of the pocket by Tuszka and scrambles out of bounds for only a yard. Big situational opportunity on fourth and six for the defense, where Bush came late on the blitz getting push on the blocking running back, affecting the quick trigger short pass that Kazee was all over with a great reaction and tackle for the stop of only two yards. Turnover on downs, good end of half stand following the long drive allowed, keeping the deficit at six.
The defense came on one more time before halftime following the offense’s touchdown with 23 seconds left but penalized for delay of game. This set up first and 15 where they decided to run the clock out, a two-yarder that was tackled by Rashed working of his block well. Lead is one.
To open the second half the defense came out defending the run, with Leal and Mondeaux getting pushed back, and Tuszka set the edge and worked inside to tackle the ball carrier for only one yard, along with Robinson near the play. On second and nine Tuszka and Wormley got a good push in their pass rush, and the latter tipped the dump off attempt to the running back falling incomplete. Third and nine now, Jacksonville goes with a quick pass on an in route against zone where Spillane read and reacted well to make the tackle for seven yards for the third down stop. Good three and out second half start, lead still one.
The defense returned quickly (11:32) to a pass play with a lack of pass rush, where Steele had a near interception on the overthrown deep target, instead falling incomplete. On second and ten, Avery had a good read and tackle in the pass game to shut the play down for no gain along with Robinson barring down. Third and ten now, and Avery initially works outside the tackle, then decides to go inside for penetration but allows another scramble losing contain as he did earlier, and Kazee did a good job coming up with burst to run him out before reaching the sticks on the seven-yard gain. Second three and out forced in a row, score remains. Encouraging defense out of halftime with two straight three and outs, down by one.
Following the safety on offense with 9:07 in the third quarter, back to the run game for unfortunately another chunk run of 11 yards, where Carlos Davis was chop blocked, Mondeaux and Spillane are caught inside, and Tuszka came off his zone drop to finally make the tackle along with Norwood for 11 yards. The following first down was much more encouraging, another run that Robinson had a great quick recognition and react to make the tackle for no gain with cornerback James Pierre near the play as well. On second and ten, the pass was a quick out to the tight end with Stiner pushing him out of bounds. Third and six now, and Spillane blitzes pushing the blocking running back in the quarterbacks face along with a good push from Avery, but gets the pass off between Norwood and Kazee, with the latter missing the tackle and colliding with Norwood instead, and Stiner coming up to finally tackle the 17-yard gain.
Jacksonville was then penalized for two holds, which Pittsburgh declined both, electing the original five-yard loss where Kazee cut off the original run angle but missed his tackle attempt, along with Robinson as the runner started going backwards and Steele eventually made the tackle for a five-yard loss. On second and 15, Tuszka and Spillane got free and quick pressure, but the pass just gets off the throw on the short stick route for the catch and run for six with Stiner and Robinson making the tackle. Third and nine now, and Pittsburgh brings the blitz from Spillane pushing back the pass blocking running back once again, with the pass going to the short drag by the tight end incomplete with Pierre in good coverage. Good job getting the third down stop, still down one.
The defense returned with 29 seconds in the third quarter, with a play action pass where Carlos Davis got late penetration but good pitch and catch to the tight end for 18 with Stiner in coverage.
The drive continued to start the fourth quarter with a familiar theme in the penalty department, this time a roughing the passer on Scott for 15 yards setting the Jaguars up in the red zone. This first down was a run where Scott set the edge and Robinson worked well through traffic for a great tackle for no gain. On second and ten, Rashed got a good push along with Mondeaux, who was able to bat the pass for the incompletion setting up third down. Another penalty here in a sloppy stretch of defense here, a hold on Norwood that negates good pocket push by Rashed and Scott forcing a scramble and tackle by Leal that would have forced fourth down.
Instead, the drive continues on first and goal, a running play in which Robinson was nearly caught in the neutral zone, but luckily gets back just before the snap and gets to the ball carrier, combining with Scott who came in free for no gain. On second and goal, back to the ground they go with the defensive line holding the point of attack overall, but a churning run through Mondeaux with Rashed and Spillane combining to tackle the tough four-yard run. Third and goal now, and good coverage here on the shortened field, but huge whole up the middle with the defensive line all getting too far upfield including the interior line of Leal and Mondeaux (who missed his diving tackle attempt), allowing the scramble and tough finish by the quarterback who lowered his shoulder to challenge Steele’s tackle attempt and fight into the end zone. Sloppy overall play, too many penalties, Steelers now down by eight.
The defense returned with 6:12 left in the game, down by five. Buddy Johnson provided a good run fill on first down to stop the play for no gain, but Robinson missing a prior opportunity in the backfield. On second and ten, the Jaguars go to the ground again running some clock, with Stiner setting the edge in the backfield to force the cutback, but Khalil Davis missing a tackle opportunity on the gain three yards where defensive lineman Carlos Davis and James Vaughters made the stop. Third and seven now, and with plenty of time the pass is complete just past the sticks with Buddy Johnson and Stiner missing tackle opportunities at the catch point, along with two other misses by Norwood and cornerback Justin Layne for a ton of additional yards on a huge 51-yard explosive catch, finally tackled by safety Lindell Stephens. Ouch.
The following first down was a run where Khalil Davis was blocked to the ground, Stiner missed a diving opportunity, and Layne getting the tackle. On second and five, Norwood and Buddy Johnson were in coverage on a pass that should have been a touchdown, luckily overthrown on a roll out with Vaughters and Leal in pursuit of the quarterback. Third and five now, and Carter gets pressure in the face of the passer, who throws behind the target who didn’t see the ball, and Layne makes a much-needed huge play to come away with the interception and explosive return for 34 yards! Huge play after sloppy stretch on both sides of the ball, sets up a chance for a comeback with three minutes left down by five.
With 1:52 left in the game, the Jaguars offense has one more chance to score, with Pittsburgh coming back and up by one. Leal starts things off with a bang with a great move and getting a big sack! On second and 12, the pass is incomplete with pressure from Leal and Carter, and Platel in tight coverage. Third and 12 now, but unfortunately the defense lets up an explosive play here, while Vaughters and Leal got pressure, the receiver was in the soft spot of the zone between three defensive backs, and eventually tackled by Layne.
The following first down had good edge pressure from Carter and Vaughters, a short completion that Robinson sniffed out and laid a hard hit to sit the receiver down for only two yards. On second and eight, Carlos Davis provided a quarterback hit on the incomplete pass, with the receiver have a seemingly sure catch but losing it late enough to be a fumble, big break for the defense. Third and eight now, and unfortunately the defense can’t force the fourth down, with Stephens allowing too much space in coverage. Another set of downs with 29 seconds to go from the 42-yard line. The first down short pass is caught for four yards, where Buddy Johnson makes the quick and solid tackle. On second and six, the pass is low and behind the receiver incomplete. Third and six now, Jacksonville goes wide receiver screen with a great play by Platel to react and get to the receiver before the lineman pull out to block him, making a solid tackle for no gain, leading to fourth down. What a huge play considering the Jaguars went for the long field goal and missed their second of the night, Steelers win!
Last let’s look at special teams:
Graphs will come later with a larger sample size, with many players currently with the same snaps and grades causing a messy graph. The table at the end of the article will have snap counts.
PFF’s highest graded special teamers were Tuszka (83.9) on seven snaps, and four others in the 70 range with at least one tackle: Snell (78.2), Spillane (75.5), Stiner (74.8), and Buddy Johnson (70.5) on the highest snap count of 15 on the game. Boykin received the lowest grade after topping this list in week one.
Olszewski was back as the first-string kick returner on the opening kickoff that went through the back of the end zone for the touchback. Kicker Chris Boswell got an opportunity to close the offenses first drive with a field goal, but uncharacteristically doinking off the left upright from 50 yards no good. Punter Pressley Harvin got his first opportunity mid first quarter (and of the preseason), a 41 yarder to the 27-yard line that was muffed and almost recovered by Boykin but retained by the return man.
Harvin’s second punt attempt came early second quarter, a 47 yarder with great placement to the five-yard line along with a solid tackle by Snell for only a five-yard return. Olszewski’s second kick return mid second quarter was fielded at the one for a 27-yard return, with a good blocking from Warren. Harvin’s third punt was a 42 yarder that went to the 31-yard line where Pierre directed him inside and Spillane made the tackle for no gain.
The first punt return opportunity came early third quarter, with Sims fielding it at the 16 on the sideline and running out of bounds for no gain. Harvin’s next punt capped the following drive, a 47-yarder fielded at the 30 and returned for ten yards, with long snapper Christian Kuntz missing a tackle opportunity then Stiner making the tackle. Following the safety, Harvin providing a booming 76-yard kick to the four-yard line forcing the returner to back pedal and muff, picking it up and only able to return it for 14 yards where Buddy Johnson pushed him out. Sims did a good job on a mid third quarter punt return opportunity, disguising where the catch might happen to actually block instead to allow the punt to roll into the end zone.
Following Jacksonville’s touchdown early in the fourth quarter, McFarland took the kickoff from the end zone for 35 yards down the sideline, with good blocks from White, Blake, and Carter. Kicker Nick Sciba made a 38-yard field goal mid fourth quarter to cut the deficit to five. The following kickoff went to the end zone and was returned to the 23 where Jace Sternberger made the tackle. Pittsburgh’s kickoff following the comeback touchdown went to the end zone, brought out for the return to the 23-yard line where Stiner made the tackle.
STEELERS VS. JAGUARS PRESEASON GAME 2 SNAPS & TOTAL PRESEASON SNAPS
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