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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Playoff Postgame Analysis

Leonard Fournette was a handful all day for the Steelers
Photo via

Final Score:

Jaguars 45 ? Steelers 42

Passing Stats:

Quarterback Completions Attempts Yards QBRating
Ben Roethlisberger 37 58 469 110.2
Blake Bortles 14 26 214 94.1

Receiving Stats:

Antonio Brown: 7 receptions for 132 yards – 2 Touchdowns

Vance McDonald: 10 receptions for 112 yards

Le’Veon Bell: 9 receptions for 88 yards – 1 Touchdown

Martavis Bryant: 2 receptions for 78 yards – 1 Touchdown

Eli Rogers: 5 receptions for 42 yards

Jesse James: 1 reception for 12 yards

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 3 receptions for 5 yards

Rushing Stats:

Le’Veon Bell: 16 rushes for 67 yards, Avg: 4.2 yards – 1 Touchdown

Ben Roethlisberger: 2 rushes for 16 yards, Avg: 8.0 yards

Kicking Stats:

Chris Boswell ? FGM: 0 for 0, PCT: 0%, XPM ? 6 , 6 PTS.

Game Summary:

In a playoff game that was certainly not for the faint of heart, both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars battled and produced a combined 930 yards of total offense and 80 total points. At the end, it was the Jaguars that prevailed, inching out a 45-42 victory at Heinz Field and ending the Steelers 2017 season. With this loss, the Jaguars move on to the AFC Championship round against Tom Brady and his New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

The Jaguars offense, often overlooked and underrated, looked to prove early that they were not just a one-dimensional team. In their first possession, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles put together an 8-play 66 yard drive which included a 21-yard completion to Jaguars tight end Ben Koyack and a 13-yard pass to receiver Marquise Lee. It culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Leonard Fournette and gave the Jaguars an early 7-0 lead. After an interception by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack placed them at the Steelers 18 yard line, Fournette struck again with an 18-yard touchdown run, giving them a 14-0 lead before the end of the quarter.

In the second quarter, the Jaguars offense would succeed following a failed series by the Steelers offense. Running back TJ Yeldon‘s 4-yard touchdown completed an 11-play, 75 yard drive, giving the Jaguars a commanding 21-0 lead. On the next series the Steelers offense showed signs of life, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s 23-yard pass to receiver Antonio Brown cut the Jaguars lead to 14. On the next Steelers possession, the Jaguars defense came up with one of their biggest plays of the game, as defense end Yannick Ngakoue sacked Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that was picked up and returned for 50 yards by linebacker Telvin Smith. With the touchdown confirmed, the Jaguars extended their lead again to 21. On the ensuing drive, Roethlisberger came up big on 4th down as he found receiver Martavis Bryant in the end zone for the 36-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 14 before the end of the half.

The Steelers offense did not waste any time carrying their momentum into the third quarter. Running back Le’Veon Bell‘s 19-yard touchdown completed a 10-play 77-yard drive, shaving the Jaguars lead to just 7 points. This touchdown proved to be the only points scored in the quarter as the Jaguars and Steelers defense forced consecutive punts on the opposing offense.

After a failed Steelers offensive series to begin the fourth quarter, the Jaguars offense struck again. Bortles 45-yard pass to receiver Keelan Cole set up another Fournette touchdown, extending the lead to 35-21. On the next series, Roethlisberger once again came up big on 4th down, completing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Brown, cutting the lead again to just one touchdown. Unfortunately the Steelers defense could not contain the Jaguars on the ensuing drive. On 3rd down, Bortles 40-yard completion to Yeldon helped extend their drive, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass to running back Tommy Bohanon, helped give the Jaguars a 42-28 lead late in the contest.

On the next Steelers possession, Roethlisberger’s lateral pass to Bell completed a 75-yard touchdown drive, reducing the lead to just one score. Fortunately, the Steelers defense was able to hold the Jaguars offense to a field goal, giving them a 45-35 lead with less than 3 minutes in the game. On the final possession of the game, the Steelers offense completed a 10-play, 75-yard drive as Roethlisberger found receiver Juju Smith-Schuster in the end zone closing the lead to just 3. Unfortunately for the Steelers, it was too little too late as time had expired, giving the Jaguars a huge victory.

Postgame Commentary:

To me, the end of the Steelers season leaves a lot more questions than answers. From a personnel standpoint, offensive coordinator Todd Haley becomes a free agent, and due to his tumultuous end to his season he may be moving on. Then we have wide receiver coach Richard Mann who made it clear that the 2017 would be his last season coaching in the NFL. In addition to these noted coaches, there has been speculation surrounding offensive line coach Mike Munchak, who was interviewed several days ago for the vacant head coaching position for the Arizona Cardinals.

From the standpoint of the players on this team, the future of Le’Veon Bell is still unknown, as he made it clear that he would not be returning under the franchise tag for another season. Long time cornerback William Gay may have played his last game in a Steelers uniform. At the beginning of the season, many speculated quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could be retiring; although he announced his desire to return prior to this game, much can change during the offseason.

It is one thing to lose a game of this nature. It’s another thing to lose a game of this nature, not knowing what the future holds for players and personnel that have made tremendous contributions to the organization. The Steelers as a franchise have thrived on stability, but with the future of many in doubt (defensive back coach Carnell Lake should be included in this list), the offseason for the Steelers is seemingly unstable.

From a positive standpoint, sometimes change can be the thing that an organization needs to attain that next level of success. In this particular game on the defensive side, the secondary was not prepared, particularly in the one area that has been a weakness for the safeties since their game against the Tennessee Titans — that being the deep middle of the field. This could also be attributed to poor play calling on the part of defensive coordinator Keith Butler or the lack of adjustments made. The one thing that is for certain, the Steelers secondary still remains an issue and perhaps change in personnel can help this.

Overall am I proud of the 2017 Steelers. They overcame more controversy and obstacles than any team in the NFL had to endure. At the same time, I will always look at this season as the season that should have been. 2018 represents the 9th anniversary of their last Super Bowl winning season in 2008-09. Perhaps much of what is happening now, is a replay of what happened nearly a decade ago; Jaguars beating the Steelers in the playoffs, the Steelers winning the Super Bowl the next season. Despite everything that happened in this game, the Steelers are on the right path which can be a greater one with the right changes.

Steelers Play of the Game:

Things were certainly booming for Antonio Brown with this amazing 43-yard touchdown reception, courtesy of a beautiful pass from Ben Roethlisberger on 4th down.

Born and raised Ottawa, Ontario Canada, Kelly is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Formerly a contributor for SBNation's 'Behind the Steel Curtain'. Kelly can be reached via the Twitter handle @kanozie80

15 Comments on Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Playoff Postgame Analysis

  1. Disappointing post-game analysis that did not include a single mention of head coach Mike Tomlin. In the week leading up to the game, Mike Mitchell made foolish comments about beating the Patriots, Le ?veon Bell whined openly about holding out in the offseason, and even Tomlin himself spoke publicly about playing the Patriots.

    This was clearly a team looking well beyond this game, and unfortunately, their head coach was leading the way in poor example. They came out laggard, with no intensity, and a relatively poor game plan. Before they knew it, they were down 21-0 on their home field.

    The majority of their scoring came from video game-quality Hail Marys, and their late chance to tie the game was eliminated by Tomlin ?s dubious decision to kick an insides kick when he did.

    But as always, most commentaries will end like this one. ?Great season, Coach! ?, and the Steelers will continue to underachieve Under Mike Tomlin. Yet nobody will say a thing, and nothing will change.

    • Kelechi Anozie // January 15, 2018 at 9:00 AM // Reply

      In defense of Mike Mitchell, the comments that were used by Sports Illustrated were actually from a month earlier (either before or after playing the Patriots). He was referring to Ryan Shazier’s injury and the idea of playing the Patriots; for whatever reason, they used his words prior to the Jaguars game and made it seem like he was overlooking the Jaguars. The least they could have done is made that part clear to everyone the true context of what he said.

      Tomlin to his credit did not look past this game at all, if anything, when the media was overlooking Blake Bortles, he and much of the defense took Blake very seriously:

      We can go ad nauseum about the decisions made in that game, as Tomlin’s decision to onside kick with 2 minutes remaining. The fact is that the team lost that game in the first 2 quarter; hence why preparation is key. This offseason is going to likely signal a few changes within the personnel as the culture within that team needs to change, especially on defense.

      All I know is this, they’ll be in playoffs again next season, question pending, can they finish the job

      • Sadly, John Mehno reported today that Mike Mitchell was outside of the Jaguars ? lockerroom prior to the game, yelling in that they were going to ?know [his] name. ?

        In the postgame yesterday, Boomer Esiason also references quotes Tomlin himself made about playing the Patriots, before the broadcast team quickly changed the subject.

        I appreciate your detailed response, but these were NOT quotes simply taken out of context as you allude. Rather, this was a team assuming their destiny lay in New England, to the point that they unprofessionally overlooked the main bridge they had to cross to get there.

        • Kelechi Anozie // January 15, 2018 at 12:12 PM // Reply

          Thank you for that information.

          Despite what Mike Mitchell was saying to the lockerroom prior to the game, the fact of the matter is that his words were taken of context by Sports Illustrated. In regards to Mike Tomlin, his words concerning the Patriots date back to November and mid-December as far as I know. Prior to this game, he was not overlooking that team, if anything he was praising the Jaguars as whole;

          Frankly speaking I have no problem with the team being confident (whether it’s silent or boastful), the issue is with preparation. Tomlin has to ensure that all personnel has their respective units ready to play a full game; in this case, they were not ready to do so.

          For Tomlin, this game is a good lesson for him in terms of in-game decisions, but this a wake up call to change some of the personnel, especially on defense since the secondary seems to continuously be an issue for this team (Carnell Lake in this case).

          Tomlin is ny

          • I agree with you 100% there. Nice response, and thank you for your coverage of the Steelers this season!

          • Jim Barbe // January 15, 2018 at 3:43 PM //

            You may not have a problem with the pre-game talk but most people would. In fact, you might want to read what Decastro had to say about the comments the week prior to the game. You simply do not say crap about the opponent prior to a game unless it’s in the positive sense. Well that is what it is but somehow I don’t think that will happen again next year.

            The Steelers need to move on from Mike Mitchell anyhow and bring in a veteran free agent at the other safety position. He was a nice add at the time but it’s now time to go.

            One good thing is I don’t have to read comments like the following that were made this year any longer. I won’t mention names but these people know who they are.

            “I’ve been a big fan of Ben’s since his rookie season. He’s now awful. He is far and away the weakest link on this team. Give the Steelers an average QB and they will win the super bowl”. How wrong can someone be.

            Here’s another

            “I think we have to face the fact that Ben has already retired. He doesn’t have that fire any longer and he’s just going through the motions”. Another foolish and inaccurate comment.

            I could post quite a few more from Don Orris’s old blog but I won’t. It just cracks me up when people make these ridiculous statements because of 1 game or 1 comment.

            The Steelers issues are anything but the QB position and they are pretty much on the defensive side of the field. Things need addressed and if they are the ultimate goal can be reached next year.

          • Kelechi Anozie // January 15, 2018 at 4:22 PM //

            In regarding to your comment on pregame talk Jim, here’s something that you need to realize, all teams do it. Whether it’s subtle or loud, they all do in some fashion. Most people may have a problem with it, then again, most of us may not fully understand their process of doing things as we’re not in their lockerroom.

            As I said, I don’t mind them being confident and vocal about it, as long as they are fully prepared to back it up.

            In terms of Mike Mitchell, he has another left until he’s a free agent; thus his position will is likely to be a priority in the draft (that along with the ILB position). Mitchell is someone that I like a lot, though he’s has his shortcomings, he has the the type of passion that this team was lacking for awhil (pre-2014). I chatted with him after yesterday and what he said was deep. Firstly he’s misunderstood by many which is true; many believe that he doesn’t fit because he isn’t the ‘quiet’ type or he talks too much. If you look at the history of some of the players that have played for the Steelers though, many of them were anything but quiet. I believe he can definitely be an asset, what one must question is the type of coaching he and the secondary have received this entire time. (Carnell Lake being that person). I believe that if this secondary received a different Defensive Backs Coach, the results would be very different than what we’ve had these last few years.

            As for people saying that Ben should retire, they clearly were not watching that game, or the last half of the season for that matter. If 469 passing yards against the supposed best secondary in the league doesn’t convince them, then I defy the find a QB that will be better suited to run that offense. Despite the mistakes at the beginning, Ben was the only reason the Steelers were in that game; he did practically everything to win. If there was one silver lining in that game, it pretty much reaffirmed that Ben has a lot of football left in him. I mean, Pro Football Focus ranked him the #3 QB overall, and that’s even having a poor first half of the season. Sometimes after a loss like this, fans will respond emotionally without really thinking about what they say.

          • You should’ve left well enough alone, Kelechi. Now I’m going to lay the smackdown, and it’s not going to feel good.

            The pre-game smack talk and whining over offseason contract extensions and puffing their chests out at the Patriots while overlooking the Jaguars is EXACTLY what is wrong with the Mike Tomlin era. The man values swagger over substance, yet lacks the discipline instilled in the team to have them work hard enough to back up their talk.

            The result is a petulant group of men who consistently underachieve relative to their expectations. I do give Tomlin credit for XLIII. Even though it was largely “Cowher’s Team”, the team had stopped playing hard for him, and without the coaching change, they don’t get that far. I also give Tomlin credit for a good XLV game plan against the Packers. If Ben plays well, and Mendenhall and Miller don’t cough up back-breaking fumbles, the Steelers probably win that too.

            But recent Steelers’ history has been unremarkable at best. They went 5 years without winning a playoff game, before the Bengals gifted them a win by self-destructing 2 years ago. Then last year, the Steelers had a pretty soft walk over the Dolphins and Chiefs to the AFCC, before trotting out the worst postseason game plan I have ever seen, getting completely destroyed by the Patriots.

            Mike Tomlin does not have a marquee playoff win. Mike Tomlin does not have a single playoff upset. Other teams get marquee wins against the Steelers.

            Over 10 years of being head coach, the man has not improved in any noticeable facet, and continues to get a full pass by the soft Pittsburgh and national media to avoid answering any difficult questions about the poor decisions he makes. There is no introspection, he never gets better, and the Steelers continue to waste seasons of eventual Hall of Famers.

            Unlike Cowher, Tomlin has had the benefit of a Hall of Fame QB his entire career. He is overrated, a poor game-planner, and actually promotes the players’ childish behavior, rather than putting an end to it. The end result is a franchise with poor work ethic that consistently fails to live up to expectations.

            The Steelers will not truly move forward until they move on from this man as head coach.

          • Kelechi Anozie // January 16, 2018 at 1:51 AM //

            Glad you got that out of your system, let me begin.

            Firstly in any Steelers era, there has been problems and well documented problems. In Noll era, Bradshaw didn’t get along at all with Chuck Noll, Joe Greene at one point threatened to quit playing after losing season. In the Cowher era, there were well documented issues with Kevin Greene and the rest of the group that was document. The biggest difference between that era and this era is social media. The fact that much of what it said is accessible makes a difference. Had there been social media during the Cowher and Noll era, it would have just as bad if not worse.

            Secondly, you said that Tomlin had the benefit of Cowher’s talent well let’s review that. Firstly, those Blitzburgh linebacker that Cowher had the priviledge of coaching came from from the Noll era (ie: Greg Llyod drafted in 1987 for instance) and even with all that talent, Cowher only mustered one superbowl appearance during that era, three straight losing seasons where they didn’t even sniff the postseason, till he finally got it right in his second last year of coaching. Cowher by no means was a perfect coach and has shortcoming very similar to Tomlin’s. So if you look at it that way, Cowher grossly underachieved considering the talent he acquired from the last Noll era, and his own picks as well. With that type of talent, he should have made the Superbowl per

            In terms of pregame smack talk being a problem, my word where do I begin with this. The Steelers had some of the best smacktalkers (ie: Greg Lloyd, Joe Greene, Kevin Greene, Joey Porter). All these people I noted where known for media, pregame and postgame banter before game. Like I said, I have no problem with it since it has always been a part of the game; the idea is to be fully prepared to back it up, something I’ve said repeadly here.

            Thirdly, this idea that he promotes childish behavior is ridiculous. People like yourself believe because he hasn’t repremanded or punished anyone to your visual approval, it automatically means that he’s promoting childish behavior. That type of commentary is quite ignorant because you don’t have a clue what he deals with on a constant basis. Because he’s not Belichick or any like the other old school coaches, it doesn’t at all validate this idea that he promotes childish behavior; if anything, assuming that is a blatant insult of his character.

            Lastly, this idea of moving past him, let’s evaluate this. So who do you suggest they can find that is currently unemployed as a coach, that hasn’t had a losing record once in their coaching career? Mike Malarkey? You think that finding the right head coach is as easy as just throwing one out, casting a line and retrieving the “right coach”? If you’re going to replace him, you’ll need to find someone who’s credentials are equally as good if not better. The only coach that has true winning credentials is Bill Belichick, and he’s likely not going anywhere. So to you and any Steelers fans that is on this tip about finding a new coach, be careful what you wish for. You may not like Tomlin, but I’m sure there are a whole list of teams that wouldn’t mind going to the playoffs each season.

            So to answer to your supposed smackdown (which was not really much of a smaackdown), everything you noted I’ve heard for years; thus it’s not very original. Everyone in this fanbase supposedly knows what this team needs, and I guess that’s easy to know being a spectator right? They didn’t live up to expectations, so I guess the best thing is get a new coach, kind of in the same way that one gets a new shoe when they’re tired of the ones they already have. LOL. You may not like Tomlin but I’ll guarantee that you’ll be seeing him next season; it’s your perrogative whether you support that or not, but as far as I’ve seen and my convos with Mike Mitchell and AB, they love playing for him; you take him away, you wouldn’t like the result.

            PS: When your team has the #4 ranked coach in the NFL, you better hope that if you dump him, you get someone at #1, 2, or 3; else, you’re just selling yourself short.

          • Yeah, I ?m rapidly losing respect for your analysis now. The smoking gun was that you didn ?t critique Tomlin in the slightest through your entire postgame analysis, and now you can see why. You are a huge Tomlin fanboy at heart, and will bend over backwards to defend his antics.

            1. The difference between ?smack talk ? of the pre-Tomlin era is that it was always directed t the tens they were PLAYING.

            Here, you had multiple self-important divas talking everything BUT the Jaguars. They broke 2 basic adages: never look past an opponent, and never provide an opponent bulletin board material.

            2. I am not a Cowher fanboy. It was time for him to retire, and I don ?t think they won XLIII if he was still there. But you ?re completely overlooking that Cowher had to spend half of his career trying to win with Neil O ?Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart, and Bubby Brister.

            Mike Tomlin had had a HOF QB in the era of the franchise QB for his entire career, and only has 3 playoff wins over the past 6 seasons to show for it- and they were only against the Bengals, Dolphins, and Chiefs.

            After the game, despite all of his pre-game verbosity, Mike Mitchell simply replied ?no comment ? to many pressing questions. And that ?s exactly how Tomlin is raising these players: talk some big smack, don ?t do what they need to to back up the smack, and then shy away like little boys when it comes time to be responsible.

            Another season where fanboys like you are going to puff Tomlin ?s regular season record, because once again, we have nothing to hang our hat on other than that.

            You should ?ve just said, ?GREAT SEASON, COACH! ? and left it at that. We know you want to.

          • Jim Barbe, Don’s blog is back. Go give it a look. I love the analysis here much better, but the debate there is good.

            I always thought you were referencing me with your posts, but obviously you had others in mind. I don’t believe I ever said those things. Be well.

      • Kelechi Anozie // January 16, 2018 at 8:01 AM // Reply

        So you’re telling me that because I didn’t critique Tomlin, that was the reason why you wasted all that time writing what you did?

        If you read one of my earliest responses, I clealy said, that Tomlin has to ensure that all of personnel for all his units are fully prepared, which he did not do. Just because I didn’t critique him in the way you did, doesn’t mean that I didn’t critique.

        Keep this in mind, I never asked you or anyone to agree with my analysis of him as a person or a coach; that’s the whole idea of these forums is to debate about it.

        In terms of smack talk and pre game talk post-Tomlin era, there really is no difference. I suggest you review what Joey Porter said and did to the Colts before their playoff match up so many years ago.

        Secondly, the fact that once you’re associating Mitchell’s post game reaction to ‘how Tomlin is raising these players’ is absolute rubbish, as it gives you an excuse to discredit him. Last I checked, it was just Mitchell that did what you noted pregame and not the entire locker room. In addition, if you followed Mitchell’s career from when he was on the Carolina Panthers, the man was ALWAYS this way; that has been his personality and Tomlin wasn’t going to quiet that, the similar way Cowher wasn’t going to tame Porter when he coached.

        I find it funny that people like yourself have the veracity to want him out, then when I ask you to suggest what coach could take his place, you have absolutely no real answer to it. If there was a coach that was available with the same credentials as him, I’d say to investigate it; the reality is THERE IS NOBODY AVAILABLE WITH TOMLIN’S CREDENTIALS. If you came here hoping that I would following this BS trend of ‘fire Tomlin’, you better find another fansite, that’s not how I work. You think your point of view is more enlightened because you believe he should go? Ok, I’ll assume that, but while you do that, please find the coach that should take his place, else accept the fact that he’ll be here for a while and move on.

        That’s all.

  2. “The Jaguars offense, often overlooked and underrated, looked to prove early that they were not just a one-dimensional team.”

    Very true statement. It may surprise many people to know that the Jags averaged 26.1 (5th in the NFL) points per game during the regular season compared to the Steelers 25.4 (8th in the NFL).

    Although I expected the Steelers would win yesterday’s game I thought it would be close and was not shocked that the Jags won. They were an underrated team coming into the game who matched up well with the Steelers.

  3. Kelly,

    I appreciate your analysis but have one question about a comment you made. You listed Joe Greene as one of the “best smacktalkers” of past Steelers’ teams. My recollection of Mean Joe is much different, that he was very soft spoken in interviews and don’t recall him ever “talking smack” publicly.

    • Kelechi Anozie // January 16, 2018 at 11:41 AM // Reply

      You’re right, he wasn’t very much of a ‘smacktalker’, he was worse. He would literally ‘smack’ people during the course of a game. There is a great video of him doing that countless time against the Eagles.

      He didn’t really trash talk as much pregame, but when it came to playing the Raiders, that’s when that he did trash talk pregame and during the game as Art Shell once noted when he was interviewed about him.

      Trash talking has been around in many different forms for many years. Back then, when the rules were a little more lenient, they were definitely trash talking and taking ‘physical liberties’ on each other so-to-speak in order intimidate each other.

      What we have now is mainly media based since it’s practically accessible everywhere; thus it gets spread more quickly than it did back then.

      My whole premise has always been this, if you smacktalk, be prepared to back it up. The Jaguars ironically enough, have been at the center of a lot of smacktalk during the year against different team; especially Jalen Ramsey, if you remember his incident with AJ Green. For the Steelers, I’m at all opposed to smacktalking, what Tomlin needed to make sure is that he took all measures to make sure that his team can back it all up; he failed in this measure and is taking the weight of that, and rightfully so.

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