PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – For those convinced the Steelers at Jacksonville would be a trap game, chunk plays of 17, 15 and 12 yards by the Jags on the first series must have had your Twitter fingers working. The defense would hold on third and 10 and the subsequent field goal would be the only points Jacksonville got in a 27-3 Steelers win.
“We did the job today,” said head coach Mike Tomlin. “We checked the boxes, wasn’t perfect, but nothing is perfect about us but our record.”
Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 267 yards, two TD and an INT, would bemoan the slow start by the offense, missing a field goal, then a punt, then another drive stalled into a made field goal to tie it early in the second quarter.
“This is the National Football League, man,” Tomlin said. “We don’t anticipate rolling out of tunnels and people laying down for us. These are going to be competitive games. We step out of tunnels ready for a 60 minute fight every week.”
A beautiful pass by Roethlisberger across the field to James Washington on third down set up a 31-yard touchdown pass to Chase Claypool as the Steelers had their first lead at 10-3 and Claypool had his 10th score of his rookie season.
Next series, Jacksonville was driving thanks in part to a personal foul penalty on Steven Nelson, but on second and 9 from the Steelers 12, former Jags first round pick, Tyson Alualu tipped a Jake Luton pass in the air and it was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick near the goal line and returned 37 yards.
“They are fun to watch,” Roethlisberger said of the defense. “They are getting turnovers for us. The turnover differential. The way they get after the quarterbacks. It’s so much fun to watch them play.”
“For the defense to give us those turnovers and give us the short field,” said tailback James Conner. “The defense is just playing big, man. They got so much going for them. We are just playing off each other.”
Conner (13 carries, 89 yards) would then run 17 yards into Jags territory, Roethlisberger with a 20 and 23-yard connection to Diontae Johnson (12 catches, 111 yards) and Benny Snell would take it the final yard for a 17-3 lead.
The next drives by Jacksonville were as follows—interception, punt, punt, punt, interception, interception, 4th down stop.
“The catalyst for it all is that the guys are playing extremely hard and fast,” Tomlin said. “That’s as a collective. I think that creates the frenzy that provides the way that we ride.”
Fitzpatrick would get another of those picks and fellow safety Terrell Edmunds had the other two.
After increasing the Jags losing streak to 9, the Steelers will look to run the Ravens losing streak to four in their last five games on Thanksgiving evening at Heinz Field.
“We have a great team in Baltimore on Thursday,” Fitzpatrick said. “They are looking to knock us off. We already beat them one time and they are going to give us their A-plus, plus game.”
Tomlin said he believes TE Zach Gentry suffered a severe knee injury but said all other injuries are minor, including Joe Haden and JuJu Smith-Schuster.