“Great players aren’t always great; they’re just great when they have to be”. This quote is usually credited to legendary NFL Films voice and narrator (The Late) John Facenda, but on this day, it applies to the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers who saved their greatness for the final 5 minutes of their game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Down 16-0 in the 3rd quarter, the Steelers responded by scoring 20 unanswered points to beat the Jaguars 20-16 at TIAA Bank Field. QB Ben Roethlisberger sealed it with a 1-yard run with 5 seconds left in regulation. It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t going to be given to the Steelers, as they had to persevere and take this victory from the jaws of defeat, which was the case in this game.
“Man, it was a really, really awesome fight. The bottom line is our business is winning and we took care of business.” Said Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, who finally beat the Jaguars after 2 tough losses to them in 2017. “Style points were quite ugly or few, but we got the job done. You just grow when you’re faced with adversity like this in a hostile environment and you’re not playing great, but you find ways to get it done. From that standpoint, I’m really excited.”
Tomlin will be the first to tell you that this game wasn’t easy, especially after his Steelers were flat on offense for the entire first half, and Roethlisberger throwing for an interception. Plus, RB James Conner couldn’t crack a Jaguars defense who was ready to stop the run. And although the Steelers defense didn’t allow a Jaguars TD in that first half, they still yielded 3 Josh Lambo FGs to go into the locker room with a 9-0 lead.
“Obviously we have some lessons to learn that can potentially be duplicated.” Said Tomlin. “You have to tip your cap to that group, particularly their defense because they controlled the day for the better part of the day. We got a big play and it got us back into it.”
Although Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette ran for 95 yards and scored the Jaguars only TD to make it 16-0, they Jaguars stopped scoring, partially due to the Steelers defense, who sacked Jaguars QB Black Bortles 6 times. “I tip the cap to our defense.” Said Tomlin. “They were put into some tough situations because they were out there for a lot of snaps and they didn’t blink. They held the fort until our offense got going.”
And ‘got going’ the Steelers offense did. Big Ben finally shook off his cobwebs and fired a 78-yard laser to WR Antonio Brown for the Steelers first TD of the game. And then with over 5 minutes left, the Steelers scored again, this time Big Ben found TE Vance McDonald for an 11-yard TD pass and suddenly the Steelers were down by only 3.
Once again, the Steelers shut down Bortles, and once again, the Steelers score, this time to win the game. Big Ben was methodical, leading his team down the field with over a minute to go, with a timeout left. His key pass was a 35-yard over-the-shoulder catch by WR JuJu Smith-Shuster. 2 Jaguars penalties pushed the Steelers to the Jags 1-yard line, and Big Ben took the small and dove over the goal line for the winning TD. Steelers win 20-16.
“Obviously with 7 Ben Roethlisberger, you have a chance.”-Said Tomlin.
Although the Steelers offense finally came to life, it was the defense who had a field day on Bortles, something they certainly wished they could’ve done in their Divisional Round loss last January. LB TJ Watt and NT Javon Hargrave each had 2 sacks, and DE Cam Heyward and LB Vince Williams each had a sack.
Big Ben passed for 314 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions, 2 to Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey. Brown has 117 yards and Smith-Shuster had 104. The Steelers are now 7-2-1 and lead the AFC North Division by 2 games over 5-5 Baltimore and Cincinnati. The Steelers stay on the road as they will travel to Denver to take on the Broncos.
“Man, hopefully, we can learn some lessons as we proceed.” Said Tomlin “but it’s good to learn those lessons with a victory.”
Notes: Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have connected on 70 touchdowns as a Quarterback-Receiver tandem, becoming the seventh Quarterback-Receiver tandem in NFL history with at least 70 touchdown connections. Steelers LB Watt Increased his a single-season career high with 10.0 sacks in 2018, surpassing his 2017 rookie season of 7.0.
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Pittsburgh 20, Jacksonville 16
Nov. 18, 2018
• Pittsburgh improved to 7-2-1 (4-0-1 on the road) and to 4-2-1 against AFC opponents in 2018.
• The Steelers have won each of their previous six games, dating back to Oct. 7, 2018, vs. Atlanta.
• The Steelers overcame a 16 point deficit in the second half and scored three unanswered touchdowns.
• Pittsburgh is now 15-1-1 in the team’s last 17 regular-season road games, dating back to Nov. 20, 2016, at Cleveland.
• The Steelers are now 12-12 in regular-season series history against the Jaguars and 6-7 in Jacksonville.
• Pittsburgh has won each of the previous three regular-season road games in the series against Jacksonville.
• Pittsburgh has won each of its last eight games in the month of November, dating back to Nov. 20, 2016, at Cleveland.
• The Steelers are 464-287-3 during the regular season since 1970.
• Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger now have 113 regular-season wins together – the most by a Steelers Head Coach-Quarterback in team history and tied for the third-most by a HC-QB tandem in NFL history (Bill Belichick-Tom Brady: 203, Don Shula-Dan Marino: 116, Sean Payton-Drew Brees: 113 (Game in Progress) and Chuck Noll-Terry Bradshaw: 107).
• Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have connected on 70 touchdowns as a Quarterback-Receiver tandem, becoming the seventh Quarterback-Receiver tandem in NFL history with at least 70 touchdown connections.
• Pittsburgh totaled six sacks – the team’s fourth game in 2018 with at least five quarterback takedowns and second consecutive such game (five vs. Carolina).
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
• Improved his regular-season record to 123-62-1 since becoming the Steelers’ head coach in 2007 (55-37-1 on the road).
• Improved his regular-season record against Jacksonville to 4-2 (3-0 on the road).
• Bettered his record to 91-47-1 in regular-season games vs. AFC opponents (42-27-1 on the road).
• Improved to 30-17 in games during the month of November (15-9 on the road).