The Steelers started off good against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but could not put them away as the they escaped with a 17-13 win at Heinz Field today.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 12 of 23 on the day passing and missed several easy throws as he finished with 200 yards passing. His lone touchdown pass went to Mike Wallace on a 28-yard pass in the second quarter.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall returned from a one game absence and had 146 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown. His afternoon also included a 68 yard run and did not looked bothered by his hamstring.
The Steelers defense held Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert to just 109 yards passing on 26 attempts. They also sacked him 5 times as Brett Keisel and LaMarr Woodley both had 2 sacks each. Maurice Jones-Drew rushed 22 times for 96 yards and the Steelers defense did not have a good afternoon bringing him down. The Jaguars rushed for 133 total yards on the afternoon.
The Steelers scored on 3 of their first 4 possessions and the fourth ended with a 46 yard miss by kicker Shaun Suisham as the kick sailed wide left.
The Steelers were 5-8 on 3rd downs in the first half, but only converted 2 of the next 7 in the second half. The Jaguars were just 4-15 on the 3rd downs for the game.
A big turning point in the game was a roughing the punter call on Ryan Mundy from the Jaguars own 20 yard-line. The penalty kept the drive alive and the Steelers defense allowed the Jaguars to score their only touchdown of the afternoon as they completed an 80 yard drive on 17 plays. Gabbert hit Jason Hill for an 18 yard touchdown with Ike Taylor in coverage. The drive saw the Steelers defense miss several key tackles.
The Jaguars added a late field goal to close within 4 points and the Steelers offense could not kill the clock to end the game. After a Daniel Sepulveda 44 yard punt, the Jaguars took over the ball at their own 23 yard-line with 1:01 left in the game. Keisel got his second sack of the game on first down and the Jaguars could barely advance the ball past mid-field before having to attempt a game ending hail-Mary pass.
The Steelers move to 4-2 on the season and suffered a few more injuries in the process as Doug Legursky, Chris Hoke, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark all suffered in-game injuries. Legursky suffered a dislocated toe, Hoke a stinger, Clark a shoulder injury and Polamalu a concussion. All four will be evaluated and head coach Mike Tomlin will update their status on Tuesday.
You can listen to the post game press conference here and I will have my complete observations of the game after I go back through it shortly.