Steelers Down Jaguars, 26-21

The Jaguars two-game winning streak came to an end Sunday night as the Pittsburgh Steelers came into Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and beat up the home team, 26-21 in front of a sellout crowd which was split between teal and gold.

Jacksonville drew first blood as cornerback Rashean Mathis intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it 72 yards down the sideline for a touchdown on Pittsburgh's opening possession. The Steelers answered on their very next possession as Roethlisberger marched his team down on a 12 play, 71-yard drive that was capped by a Heath Miller one-yard touchdown reception.

The shootout was on as David Garrard led the Jaguars offense down the field on the team's first offensive possession. The Jaguars went 74 yards in seven plays, highlighted by a pass interference penalty on a pass intended for Matt Jones. Maurice Jones-Drew then plunged in from one-yard out to give the home team a 14-7 advantage.

The Jaguars lead would be short-lived as Pittsburgh's offense marched down the field with relative ease as they scored on three of their next four first half possession en route to a 20-14 halftime advantage.

The shootout turned into a defensive standoff in the third quarter as each team struggled to move the football, and the Steelers had zero net yards in the period. Jacksonville took the lead in the fourth quarter as Garrard moved the team down on a six play, 76-yard drive that was capped by a 24-yard touchdown strike to tight end Marcedes Lewis.

The Jacksonville defense folded for the fifth time in as many games, as Ben Roethlisberger led his Steelers down the field on an 11 play, 80-yard touchdown drive to put the game away, as he hit Hines Ward with a eight-yard touchdown pass for a 26-21 advantage.

The Jaguars defense had no answers for the Steelers offense as Pittsburgh had 415 yards of total offense, had 28 first downs, and scored 20 first half points. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 26 of 41 passes for 309 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, for a passer rating of 100.6. Pittsburgh was also successful on the ground as they pounded out 129 yards rushing on 26 attempts, led by third-string back Mewelde Moore who ran for 99 yards on just 17 carries. The Steelers leading receiver was Nate Washington, who caught six passes for 94 yards and a 48-yard touchdown, which he beat cornerback Will James on a double move.

Offensively, the Jaguars couldn't get anything going on the ground, as the Steelers loaded up the line of scrimmage. Jacksonville had just 38 yards on 19 carries. Through the air, quarterback David Garrard had little help from his wide receivers, as Jaguars pass catchers dropped several balls. Garrard finished 18 of 32 for 200 yards and a touchdown, which equated to a passer rating of 85.4. First-year wide receiver Mike Walker built upon his fine performance of a week ago, and caught six passes for 107 yards, both career highs.

Jacksonville simply couldn't make enough plays on offense to pull the Steelers out of their cover-one defense, and the defense folded again at crunch time, something that's becoming a weekly occurrence. Not only was the Jaguars loss disappointing, but they lost significant ground in the division as both Tennessee and Indianapolis recorded late come-from-behind victories. Jacksonville now sits at 2-3 with a trip to first-place Denver looming next Sunday.

Jags Illustrated Top Stories