Jacksonville rushed for 224 yards, including a season-high 147 by Fred Taylor, as the Jaguars earned a 29-22 victory here Sunday over the struggling Steelers.
Taylor, who had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, scored on a 12-yard run with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to provide the winning margin as the Jaguars improved to 10-4 while handing the Steelers (9-4) their third loss in their past five games and second in a row.
"I'll be straight to the point, we're not playing well enough to win," said an obviously upset Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "That's the cold reality of it. We cant' look for anybody else to solve our problems.
"It's fundamental football in all phases. We've got to tackle better. We've got to be more gap sound against the run. We've got to catch interceptions when we have an opportunity to do that. We've got to keep the ball in front of us. Offensively, we've got to block people better. We've got to finish off plays better. We've got to protect our quarterback better. Receivers got to get open. The quarterback has to get rid of the ball. We've got to catch the ball when we have an opportunity to do that."
Other than those things, the Steelers played well against the Jaguars.
The loss drops the Steelers into a tie for first place in the AFC North with Cleveland, an 8-0 winner Sunday over Buffalo, with Pittsburgh owning the tiebreaker thanks to a sweep of the season series with the Browns.
But with the team struggling in the past month, Pittsburgh has more on its mind than tiebreakers.
"We've got to stop with all the talking and worrying about Cleveland and the playoffs and just win," said linebacker Larry Foote.
The Steelers will certainly have to play better in their upcoming game Thursday night in St. Louis if they expect to do that.
But Jacksonville botched both PATs it attempted in the third quarter, allowing the Steelers a chance to get back into the game.
Anthony Smith, beaten on the long TD pass to Northcutt, picked off a Garrard pass – just Garrard's second interception of the season – and returned it 50 yards to the Jacksonville 11.
Ben Roethlisberger, who was 16 of 33 for 146 yards and three touchdowns, threw an 11- yard TD to Hines Ward and connected with Nate Washington on a 30-yard bomb on Pittsburgh's next possession to cut the lead to 22-20 with 5:54 left in the game.
And when wide receiver Cedrick Wilson converted the two-point conversion with a pass to Santonio Holmes, the game was tied and a Heinz Field crowd that had been booing in the third quarter was on its feet.
But Taylor and Jones-Drew silenced them quickly.
Garrard connected with tight end Marcedes Lewis for a 20-yard gain to midfield and Taylor and Jones-Drew carried the Jaguars into the end zone from there, with Taylor scoring from 12 yards out at the two-minute warning to provide the winning margin.
"When you can't stop the run, it's going to be a long day," said linebacker James Farrior.
The Steelers got the ball back at their own 41 on the kickoff, but Heath Miller came up about a foot short of a first down on fourth-and-seven at the Jacksonville 39 to end Pittsburgh's chances.
Now, the Steelers have just four days to regroup and try to finish off the season strong on the road, where they've gone just 2-4 this season.
"It's tough, it's frustrating, but we've got to move on," said Steelers running back Willie Parker, who gained 100 yards on just 14 carries as the Jaguars dominated the time of possession, 37:39 to 22:21.
"They played our type of ball, keep-away. They were better at it."