This was a much-needed victory for the Steelers in so many ways.
But first and foremost was that it was a game won by the defense in a game in which the offense was, well, looking like it was intent on allowing the Jaguars to hang around.
Brice McCain's interception and 22-yard return for a touchdown was the biggest play in a strong defensive effort, but it was hardly the lone play made by the defense.
Jason Worilds looked unblockable. Cortez Allen had an interception for the second consecutive game - the first time a Steelers DB has recorded interceptions in back-to-back games since Troy Polamalu did it twice in 2010. James Harrison had his first tackle in his return to the team, and it was for a loss to boot.
The Jaguars had 10 possessions Sunday. Seven of them resulted in Jacksonville getting one first down or less.
“I think more than anything, it kind of reassured what we kind of knew about each other,” said Worilds. “We know what we can do, we just have to do it consistently. This was a step in the right direction.”
@ The funny thing about McCain's interception was that he was red-hot in practice last week, picking off a number of passes.
Maybe it was because he was so comfortable working against Jacksonville's offense. McCain played in the same division as Jacksonville as a member of the Houston Texans for five seasons and said he recognized one of the team's audibles before his game-changing pick-6.
“I couldn’t even see the quarterback (throw the ball),” said McCain, speaking of rookie Blake Bortles. "I saw him check, and I’ve been playing against the Jaguars for a long time. The signal was a pick play, so I went over the top and he threw it right to me.”
@ I don't know that I've ever seen back-to-back offsides by a team on a kickoff as the Steelers accomplished in the second quarter.
Apparently, Mike Tomlin hadn't either.
After Vince Williams got out ahead of Shaun Suisham on the first one - how the guy next to the kicker does that is beyond me - and Antwon Blake followed by doing the same thing on the next kickoff - negating a personal foul by the Jaguars, the Steelers' head coach walked down to the line to watch his guys get off on the third attempt.
Judging by the stern look on his face, had somebody run offsides on the third attempt, they might have been released on the spot.
@ I went looking for Lance Moore in the locker room after the game. I couldn't find him.
Moore, of course, drew a penalty for spiking the ball at midfield following a 26-yard catch in the third quarter. Two plays before that, he had been all by himself in the middle of the field when the Steelers ran a screen pass to Le'Veon Bell that fell incomplete.
Moore raised his hands in the air in a huff and ran back to the huddle.
After the 26-yard catch, Moore got up and spiked the ball in the direction of the Steelers' sideline, drawing a penalty for delay of game. I wanted to ask him if he was trying to fire up his sideline or, in fact, showing the coaching staff that he could get open down the field.
I wouldn't blame him for either one.
Tomlin gave him a talk following the penalty, but he was right back in the game a couple of plays later, so I'm guessing it was the former, not the latter.
@ Maurkice Pouncey appeared to be wobbly in the second quarter following a 13-yard gain on a screen pass after Allen's interception, though Pouncey wouldn't admit to it.
He got up and walked 20 yards down the field the wrong way before Ben Roethlisberger gathered up the center and got him into the huddle.
On the next play, Pouncey was driven back into Roethlisberger, who was sacked on the play.
It was really the only sack in the game on which the line truly got beat. The other three sacks were of the coverage variety or Roethlisberger holding onto the ball too long.
"I want to say the line played a lot better than what the stats are going to say," Roethlisberger said. "That’s a good defensive front. They got after it. I know there are going to be some stats on sacks, but the line played a lot better than it will be written. A lot of those are on me."