The Pittsburgh Steelers are halfway through what appears set up to be yet another underwhelming performance, entering the second half trailing 7-6 after the offense stalled inside the red zone twice–though the latter came with time expiring, needing to settle for a field goal on third down.
But even that field goal attempt was set up by an interception by Ryan Shazier, ripping the ball from the grasp of the tight end as he was being tackled, not having yet secured the catch in the process.
The Jaguars’ touchdown came off of an interception from Roethlisberger by Jalen Ramsey, looking for Vance McDonald. The defense looked helpless on the drive. The Steelers’ first drive started with a 49-yard bomb to Brown that set expectations the rest of the half would not live up to.
The Steelers got an early free play on offense with Calais Campbell offsides, but the deep pass didn’t connect. From the 46, however, Le’Veon Bell was able to work his way forward for about six yards across midfield.
Martavis Bryant picked up nine yards on a screen pass up the left side on the following play. Bell was dropped for a loss of a yard on an inside zone run. Now third down, after timeout from Jacksonville, Roethlisberger went where he had to, to Brown on a short slant for the conversion. His fifth reception for the day, putting him over 100 yards.
From the 35, Roethisberger took a deep shot to Brown down the right sideline, snagging it but out of bounds. He misfired on another free play due to an offside. The hard count has been his greatest weapon this year. Off the right side, Bell took the ball off the right side, following his blockers for 15 yards.
From the 15, Roethlisberger stepped up and hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for 11, setting up their first goal-to-go situation of the game. From inside the five now, no huddle, a quick pass to Smith-Schuster was thrown in the dirt with the Jaguars breaking on it. The quick pass on second down went to Bell for three. On third and goal from the two, Roethlisberger forced the ball to Brown for an incompletion. Yet another stalled drive inside the 20, but they at least managed to take the lead, 9-7, on another Chris Boswell field goal.
Following a touchback, T.J. Watt tackled Leonard Fournette from the back side after a three-yard run. Immediately under pressure from Shazier, Blake Bortles had to launch early and out of bounds, hit by Cameron Heyward. On third and seven, the Steelers got him for the second time of the game, initial pressure by Heyward, with Watt cleaning it up for his third sack of the season.
After holding call on the punt return, the Steelers started their second drive of the half from the 23. Bryant was upended for a loss of one on the first play, but Roethlisberger was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Telvin Smith, off a tipped pass by Avery Jones. The Jaguars missed the extra point, but it is still 13-9.
Bell was dropped for a loss of five on the first play of the ensuing drive following a touchback. On second and 15, he got three back on a screen, setting up third and 12. But it was Brown coming through for a 19-yard gain on third and 12.
Roethlsiberger was buried for a sack, the first of the game, for a loss of eight, Campbell rushing off the left side getting the initial pressure. On second and 18, his shovel pass was off-line and incomplete. On third and 18, his pass was overthrown, batted by the far defender and fielded by Barry Church, who returned it for another pick six, dropping the Steelers to 20-9, and the offense exited the field to very deserving boos.
Three quick passes to Bell, Brown, and James picked up about 12 yards in total. He did a nice job of looking off the flat route to come right-middle back to Brown for nine. After another batted pass from Roethlisberger, Bell got the carried on third and one and converted. After an incompletion, Brown was tackled for a short gain on a screen to the left. On third and eight near midfield, he was sacked by Dante Fowler, spinning away from Hubbard as Roethlisberger tried to step up into the pocket.
A combination of J.J. Wilcox and Arthur Moats was at least able to down the ensuing punt inside the five. Javon Hargrave brought down Fournette after one yard. The rookie back shook a couple of tackles for about 13 yards, followed by an 11-yard run.
After a one-yard run, Chris Ivory got six to set up third and three. The veteran back converted on the next play. The Jaguars then proceeded to gash the defense until Sean Davis came up for a run stop near the 30 for a loss of three.
After getting some of that yardage back on the ground, Bortles handed off to Fournette for no gain, but it kept the clock moving, ticking below seven minutes to play, as a field goal gave the Jaguars a 14-point lead.
From the 25, Roethlisberger checked down to Bell for a loss. He found Smith-Schuster over the middle for 14. After an incompletion off a hopped pass–Mike Tomlin challenged the play for his second lost challenge of the game, wasting a critical timeout–Roethlisberger threw his fourth interception of the game looking for Smith-Schuster, pretty much putting the nail in the coffin for this one. He has as many interceptions as touchdowns through five games.
While the defense was able to get the ball back quickly, it cost the rest of their timeouts. From the 14, Roethlisberger took a shot on an incompletion on first down. He bluffed a check down to find James for 12 on second down. He found Brown for 21 down the middle of the field to the 50.
A nine-yarder for Bryant followed. Another quick pass to Smith-Schuster added 13 and out of bounds to the 28. A touchdown was negated by a hold on the offensive line, David DeCastro the one flagged. Backed up to the 38, Roethlisberger threw a quick screen to Justin Hunter for six yards. Looking for Smith-Schuster in the end zone, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson, his fifth interception of the game, the worst of his entire career.
There’s really no reason to play-by-play the rest of this one; it’s over. But unfortunately I do have to note the horrible 90-yard touchdown run allowed to Fournette on third down. And shame on Sean Davis for giving up on the run late in trail. It’s 30-9.