By Julie Dixon //@ABroncoNole
Jacksonville 45 – Pittsburgh 42
During the 4th quarter in Heinz Stadium, chants of, DUUUUVAAAAL could be heard unabated in the AFC Divisional playoff game. While the score seems as if it was a close contest, not even Pittsburgh Steelers fans believed it as the camera showed large sections of empty yellow seats.
From their touchdown drive on their first possession to a game-sealing field goal kick by kicker Josh Lambo, the Jacksonville Jaguars shocked Steelers Nation. The Jags weren’t pretty and once again, lost most stats like first downs 22-28, yards 378-544, yards per play 6.2-7.0 and total plays, 61-78.
Jacksonville did win the stats that matter: third downs 8-14-57% 7-16-44%, 4th down 100% and 5 compared to 3 red zone trips with scores.
After the Jags went up 21-0, it felt as if the defense started to cruise. They played less man, more zone, and linebacker Telvin Smith missed some time after getting a little beat up. Often when teams know they have a big game the following week, they begin to dial it back and choose which plays to give it 100%. This isn’t laziness, but trying to limit injuries and stay fresh for the next battle.
They may have also felt confident that they could stop whatever Pittsburgh threw at them, plus quarterback Blake Bortles did his usual red zone touchdown and fourth quarter chill. This guy seems to enter the Zen zone when most guys panic. It may also explain when things are less on the line, he’s not as clutch because he’s too relaxed.
QB Ben Roethlisberger found ways to take advantage when the Jags dropped their guard and his five TDs highlighted this. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, he had a tipped pass for an interception and a strip sack.
Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone had said they would blitz every down, but he lied. They rarely did, but the thought of it most likely got in Roethlisberger’s head and worked just as well. When they did blitz, he wasn’t prepared for it.
The fail of the game though goes to the Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin. He made a bad call on a fourth down and later decided on an onside kick. That kick gave Jacksonville the ball back and the FG that is sending Sacksonville to face off against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Because Jags fans have endured so much, EverBank Field opened a section for them to welcome the players home. No one knew about this until it was put out on social media. Nice turn out for such short notice.
My brother and his family flew up to Pittsburgh. They brought a cousin who is a Cleveland fan and have to hand it to him, he even showed up in Browns gear. Our family is nothing, if not loyal to our teams.
Fans in Jacksonville greet the Jaguars back at EverBank Field.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 15, 2018
Talk Jaguars with Julie on Twitter @ABroncoNole