Jaguars Show No Quit in Loss

Although the goal each week for the Jaguars and every other team is to win, Jacksonville showed a lot of pride in their narrow defeat at the hands of the Steelers.

Down 17-0 less than five minutes into the second period it would've been very easy for the 1-4 Jaguars to lose hope and mail it in against the defending AFC champion Steelers. Nobody would've blamed them. The head coach is likely going to get fired very soon, they have a rookie quarterback and they're playing two rookie offensive linemen that appear to be in way over their heads.

Jacksonville was the second-biggest underdog of the week, playing on the road and this game would barely make a 45 second Sportscenter clip if the final margin was 10 or 40.

After two consecutive three-and-outs, the Jaguars offense got to their bread and butter which is running the football with the dynamic Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew ran for a modest 25 yards on the next drive and the would eventually stall as quarterback Blaine Gabbert was sacked by LaMarr Woodley, one of five sacks the rookie would take on the day. Still, the Jaguars put points on the board as Josh Scobee drilled a 46-yard field goal.

With the Jaguars offense averaging roughly 12 points per game and the defense already have given up 17, the margin for error for Mel Tucker's group was slim, if any. From that point on the Jaguars defense didn't make any errors. Amazingly, the Jacksonville defense yielded just 131 yards in nearly three full periods of play after giving up 239 yards in a little over a quarter and most importantly no points.

"You have to tip your cap to them," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "They executed and they applied pressure. They mixed some things up from a coverage standpoint. They did a nice job."

17 points allowed should be good enough to win in this league. The Jaguars defense has held up their end of the bargain all season long, but it hasn't kept the Jaguars from dropping five consecutive games.

"This is a difficult situation for all of us. No one thought we would be 1-5," Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny who led the team with 16 tackles said.

Jacksonville received somewhat of a mulligan on their first drive of the third period as they were stymied and headed for a punt before a roughing penalty on Ryan Mundy gave the Jaguars new life. After a heavy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert looked down the gun barrel and delivered a strike to Jason Hill in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown. Gabbert showed great guts and a great arm on the throw which brought the Jags within 10.

"That roughing the punter probably took a little air out of us, in terms of giving them an extra possession," Tomlin explained. "I acknowledge what that does to a defense when you get off and then you have to go back on. That's why you can't do that. But I didn't sense a let up of any kind. That would be disrespectful to Jacksonville. I thought they played and made plays in the second half, and we didn't."

The Jaguars may not have won the game on Sunday but they did win a little was a little skirmish between fullback Greg Jones and Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley and saw more growth from their rookie quarterback. Gabbert didn't make any big mistakes and the team didn't brutally mishandle the end of the game situation as they had in previous weeks.

The Jaguars were backed into a corner early and instead of giving up in a near impossible situation, the team came out swinging and nearly pulled off an upset. At the end of the day they lost their fifth straight game but there's a lot to be proud of.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

Want more in-depth coverage on your favorite NFL team? Click here and get started today.


Jags Illustrated Top Stories