Sam's Commentary

January 14, 2018 Commentary Archive

Jaguars Come Alive, Upset Steelers, Head To AFC Title Game

by Sam Kouvaris
Posted January 14, 2018 ===========================================================================

It was thirty minutes of the unexpected in the first half between the Jaguars and the Steelers.

Getting the ball first, the Jaguars looked like world-beaters on offense marching right down field in eight plays covering 66 yards and scoring on 4th down to take a 7-0 lead. Leonard Fournette dove in from the one for the TD while Blake Bortles avenged a bit of last week's criticism going 3 for 4 in the drive.

It wasn't what the Steelers or their fans expected from a team that only scored 10 points last week against Buffalo. Heinz field was quiet and the Pittsburgh sideline bewildered.

It didn't get any better for the Steelers as Myles Jack tipped a Ben Roethlisberger pass to himself and tiptoed on the sideline for an interception at the 18. Fournette scored off right tackle to take a 14-0 lead. Crickets in the stadium.

On the Jaguars next possession in the second quarter they marched it right down the field again, this time with T.J. Yeldon scoring from 4 yards out to take a 21-0 lead.

Unexpected, but watching the game it was a legitimately dominating performance. The Jaguars offensive line was gouging the Steelers front four while Bortles was composed and getting the ball to the right guys. It wasn't perfect, but things were happening all in the plus column for the Jaguars.

Up until the 21-0 lead the defense was stopping the run, playing fast and putting enough pressure on Roethlisberger to keep the Pittsburgh passing game at bay. But then they started playing a bit off the ball, giving up chunks of yardage and the Steelers scored making it 21-7. La'Veon Bell was doing most of the work but the TD was a pass from Ben to Antonio Brown where A.J. Bouye never turned around.

Momentum seemed to shift but Yannick Ngakoue stripped the ball from Roethlisberger and Telvin Smith picked it up and ran 50-yards for a TD to take a 28-7 lead. Smith was called for taunting as he went into the end zone so the 15 yards on the kickoff gave the Steelers the ball at midfield with 2:20 to play in the half. It's a penalty that really hurt the Jaguars because it put Pittsburgh in great field position and gave them a little momentum.

Still the defense was getting the job done, forcing a 4th and 8 at the 36 with time dwindling and Pittsburgh out of timeouts. That's when Tashaun Gipson inexplicably let Martavius Bryant get behind him for a TD to put the Steelers right back in it at 28-14. It's the only thing the Jaguars couldn't do in that situation to allow Pittsburgh to gain some momentum, but that's what happened.

As I mentioned, it was a half of "unexpecteds" on both sides. Nobody expected the Jaguars to get things done the way they did in the first half and giving up two long TD throws is about the last thing anybody expected from the Jaguars defense.

It carried over to the second half with Pittsburgh taking the opening possession and driving right down field for a TD. Roethlisberger showed great trust in Bell on a little circle route against Telvin Smith, throwing the ball in the end zone where Bell was going to be. Telvin never saw it coming and Bell made a great catch to make it 28-21. Now it's a game.

All the momentum remained with the Steelers and their fans came alive as well. A couple of good plays by the Jaguars offense were negated by Brad Nortman's punt being deflected giving the ball to Pittsburgh at midfield to start the fourth quarter.

That's when the Jaguars showed some life, the defense stopping Pittsburgh on 4th down to get the ball at midfield. After a couple of runs, Bortles hit Keelan Cole for 45 yards down to the 3 and Leonard Fournette scored his third TD of the game for a 35-21 lead.

But the Steelers came right back, converting their second 4th down touchdown of the game, Roethlisberger to Brown in front of Bouye to bring Pittsburgh within seven. It felt like playoff football. The Jaguars defensive backs said all week that Brown was the best receiver in the league and he proved it on this day. Who thought this would be a 35-28 game at any point?

Again the Jaguars responded, this time with Bortles showing poise, patience and throws that he's not known for in his time in Jacksonville. A critical 3rd down to TJ Yeldon on his third or 4th read gave the Jaguars the ball in Steeler territory. Then just a beautiful play fake and a small toss to the fullback, Tommy Bohanon gave the Jaguars a 42-28 lead with 4 minutes to play. It might be the "coming of age" drive for Bortles who looked the part of a playoff quarterback.

Again, the Steelers drove down and scored, a sandlot play accounting for the TD. Roethlisberger was scrambling past the line of scrimmage but threw it backwards to Bell who went the final eight yards for the TD. Still a game.

But the onside kick didn't go ten yards and was hit by a Steelers player, giving the Jaguars good field position. A couple of Fournette runs (he was over 100 for the game) made it 4th and 1 letting Josh Lambo kick a 45-yarder for a 45-35 lead and 1:40 to play.

The Steelers had a desperation drive at the end that burned the clock and scored with no time left for a 45-42 win by the Jaguars. Before the game was over, the Jaguars were already an eight-point underdog to the Patriots next weekend in New England. Of course, they were a touchdown underdog here in Pittsburgh and nobody gave them much of a chance.

That's what happens.


Commentary by Sam Kouvaris

e-mail Sam


Sam's Commentary

Black Creek Outfitters

ARCHIVE of The College Weekly Report

01-13-2018 - Jaguars In Pittsburgh, All Business
01-11-2018 - Jaguars To Play Eagles In London
01-07-2018 - Jaguars Beat Buffalo With Defense,"Grit"
01-05-2018 - Khan, "I'm very, very bullish on Jacksonville."
01-03-2018 - Boselli, Dawkins Finalists For 2018 Hall Of Fame
01-01-2018 - Marrone's Routine Stays The Same
01-01-2018 - Jaguars Home, Have Already Moved On
12-31-2017 - Jaguars Look Ahead To Playoffs
12-31-2017 - Jaguars Limp Into Playoffs
12-31-2017 - Jaguars Win AFC South, Lose Game, Poise In SF
12-17-2017 - Jaguars Dominate Texans 45-7, Qualify For Post-season
12-10-2017 - Jaguars Make Big Statement Beating Seattle, 30-24
12-03-2017 - Jaguars Sweep Colts, Eye Post-season
11-28-2017 - Mullen Is The New Gators Head Coach
11-26-2017 - Jaguars Falter, Lose To AZ, 27-21
11-24-2017 - Boselli's Chances For The Hall? Pretty Good
11-22-2017 - Boselli, Dawkins, Butler Among Hall Of Fame Semifinalists
11-20-2017 - Jaguars Do Just Enough, Beat Browns 19-7
11-12-2017 - Unlike Previous Years, Jaguars Find A Way To Win 20-17 In OT
11-05-2017 - Back To Back And At Home, The Jaguars Look Legit
10-30-2017 - McElwain Departure "It's Never Pretty"
10-26-2017 - Telvin Smith New Deal: Worth Every Penny
10-18-2017 - NFL, Khan, Players and Protest
10-16-2017 - Inconsistent Again, Jaguars Lose To Rams
10-08-2017 - Jaguars Real Selves? Dominate Steelers 30-9
10-01-2017 - Jaguars Models Of Inconsistency, Fall To Jets In OT
09-24-2017 - Jaguars Kneel, Lock Arms With Khan In Show Of "Solidarity"
09-24-2017 - Jaguars Rout Ravens in London
09-24-2017 - Jaguars To Use "Home" Field Advantage vs. Ravens
09-22-2017 - Jaguars Say London Trip Is Pretty Routine
09-17-2017 - Jaguars 2017 Look Like Jaguars 2016 vs. Titans
09-13-2017 - Fournette Works In Relief Effort
09-13-2017 - Jaguars, Khan Help In Relief Effort
09-12-2017 - Jaguars Workout In Houston, Thinking Of Home
09-11-2017 - Jaguars Notes From Houston
09-10-2017 - Jaguars Don't Just Win, They Dominate Texans
09-01-2017 - Jaguars Decisions: Not Just "The 53"
08-23-2017 - Quarterback Decision Can Wait
08-18-2017 - Jaguars Step Backwards vs. Bucs
08-17-2017 - Jaguars Need A Big Step Forward vs. Bucs
08-10-2017 - Jaguars Better 1st Impression vs. Patriots
08-09-2017 - Bortles Better But Not Close To Brady
08-08-2017 - The PLAYERS In March Is The Right Fit
08-08-2017 - Jaguars/Patriots Practice: What It's Supposed To Look Like
08-07-2017 - Gipson Now Knows Tom Brady Is The Goat
08-05-2017 - Marrone's Jaguars Camp: Old Is New Again
07-28-2017 - Jaguars 2017: All About Blake
07-13-2017 - Kingfish Tournament Still Fishing
07-12-2017 - TPC Performance Center Will Make You Better
07-07-2017 - Players Is Big And Getting Bigger
06-29-2017 - Gators Baseball Win National Title
06-28-2017 - Gators Baseball National Champs
06-17-2017 - Bortles Knows This Is It
06-17-2017 - Marrone, Albert Lynchpins To Jaguars Success
06-10-2017 - Marrone Unimpressed In OTA's
05-24-2017 - Bortles On Being Bad, Better
05-15-2017 - Sunday Stroll For Si Woo Kim
05-12-2017 - Still Anybody's Tournament
05-11-2017 - Malik Jackson At The Players: "It's Pretty Dope"
05-10-2017 - Winning Score? TPC Stadium Is Firm And Fast
05-10-2017 - Sergio: Everybody's New Favorite
05-09b-2017 - THE PLAYERS In May Or March Is Still Huge
05-09-2017 - GJO To The Players Is A Long Trip
04-29-2017 - Jaguars Take "Bama OL In 2nd Round
04-28-2017 - Jaguars Take Fournette: "Physical"
04-27-2017 - Past Is Prologue For The Jaguars Draft
04-22-2017 - Jaguars Draft 2017: Take The Best Player
04-21-2017 - Nothing Good In The Jags 2017 Schedule
03-31-2017 - Mt. Acosta Classic Is Something Special
03-29-2017 - Marrone Looking For Competition, Consistency
03-28-2017 - Khan "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"
03-28-2017 - Coughlin "We Need A Culture Change"
03-26-2017 - NFL Owners Talk Player Safety, Shorter Games In Phoenix
03-19-2017 - Gators Swamp Virginia, Head To New York
03-19-2017 - FSU Can't Shoot, Loses To Xavier
03-14-2017 - DL3 In The HOF, Still Wants To Play
03-08-2017 - Jaguars Free-agency Preview: Plugging Holes
02-24-2017 - Shorter SpeedWeeks, Better Racing?
02-22-2017 - One Stop Sports Recovery (Now available to everybody)
02-07-2017 - The Case For Boselli In The Hall, And The Process It Entails
02-01-2017 - Coughlin Says Boselli "Should Be In The Hall Of Fame"
01-19-2017 - Hackett Stays As Jaguars OC
01-12-2017 - Coughlin, "Winning Is What It's All About"
01-11-2017 - Marrone Starts To Change The Staff
01-09-2017 - Marrone, Coughlin, Caldwell Try To "Fix" Jaguars
01-03-2017 - Boselli Makes Hall Of Fame Final 15
01-02-2017 - Jaguars To Compete For A Head Coach

All content at this site is subject to
© Copyright by Sam Kouvaris / All Rights Reserved
Designed and Created by Charlie Logan
A ® Ruffsounds Production
Website Hosting by KTEK International Inc.