( Pittsburgh, PA) The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the New England Patriots weeks ago and many fans from the steel city had it figured out that the top two teams in the American Football Conference (AFC), would certainly meet again in the Conference Championship.

New England already claimed their spot in the title game by beating the Tennessee Titans 35-7, All Pittsburgh would have to do is dispatch of the Jacksonville Jaguars to join the Pats, I mean, that 30-9 loss to the Jags earlier in the season was a fluke, right?

Wrong. The Jaguars showed up at Heinz Field Sunday and showed out pulling off a  45-42 upset over the favored Steelers in the AFC Divisional Round and now Jacksonville, not the Steelers will play the Patriots next week for the AFC Crown and the trip to Super Bowl 52.

Jacksonville QB  Blake Bortles and rookie RB Leonard Fournette were the catalysts in the Jags attacks helping the visiting team claw their way out to a  21-0 lead after a quarter and a half of play.  The Steel Curtain of Pittsburgh appeared to have no answers. As the defense sprang so many leaks that the only thing clogged in the Burgh were the rivers and routes to the stadium and that was due to mother nature, not the Steelers.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger would get the Steelers offense on track guiding the Black and Gold on two scoring drives and picking up 14 points by halftime, but his sack and fumble helped the Jags pick up a total of 28 points in the first half.

In the second half, the Steelers came out swinging, they got to within 7 of the Jaguars, but wasted 2 chances to tie the game due to bad decision-making. The Jaguars would eventually score 17 more points and allow Pittsburgh score 14 more before securing the victory. Bortle’s stats weren’t pretty, but he was effective. He passed for 189 yards and a TD. The Jacksonville front five protected their QB helping him avoid being sacked, and he didn’t throw an interception. As for Jacksonville’s rookie sensation running back from LSU Leonard Fournette; he had his way with Pittsburgh rushing for 109 yards and scoring 3 TDs.

The defense lived up to their nickname of  “Sacksonville” bringing down Pittsburgh’s’ Big Ben 4 times behind the line of scrimmage. The Steelers did their best to come back in this game as  Rothleisberger passed for 469 yards and 5 TDs. The Steelers veteran QB  became the first to ever do so and lose the game. Running back Le’Veon Bell was very supportive with his combined 155 yards (Rushing and Receiving) and 2 TDs. Pittsburgh Tight End Vance McDonald had 112 yards on 10 catches, and star wide receiver Antonio  Brown had 132 yards on 7 catches in his first action since injuring his calf.

So, why didn’t Pittsburgh win?

The defense didn’t rise to the occasion. They only sacked Bortles once and were constantly fooled by the Jags play-action. This game was win or go home for the rest of the season.The Jaguars move on and the Steelers season is over.  Once Pittsburgh heals, I think they should use this as motivation to go for it all in 2018. But first, they must plug up the holes in that defense and spare no expense.

Other NFL Scores: In addition to the Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles are also a win away from Super Bowl 52 after they beat defending NFC Champion Atlanta 15-10. The last game of the weekend ended in dramatic fashion; with 4 seconds left in regulation, Minnesota Vikings QB Case Keenum connected with wide receiver Stephon Diggs on a 61-yard desperation pass that Diggs took to the house for the game-winning TD in a 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Next weekend Minnesota will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com
Follow him @urbnamediaRay on twitter

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