Despite it being weather that looked like it would have suited the Steelers, the Jacksonville Jaguars cemented themselves as a team that will have to be dealt with in the AFC Playoffs as they went into Pittsburgh Sunday and scored a late TD to beat the favored Steelers 29-22. Led by a stifling defense that shut down Ben Roethlisberger and Willie Parker for the most part, and an offense that did what it wanted most of the afternoon, there were parts of Sunday afternoon that actually looked easy for the Jags, even after giving up a 15-point lead and then coming back for the winning score with 1:57 left.
The loss combined with the Browns win over the Bills means that the Steelers are now in major trouble in the AFC North. The two teams are now tied at 9-5 with just two games left, and with the Steelers having two road games (at St.Louis and at Baltimore) and the Browns with a road game (at Cincy) and home game (vs the 49’ers), the Browns look like they will steal the division away and play the Steelers in the first round at Browns Stadium.
The Steelers at one point led 7-3 after Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller with a TD pass in the second quarter, but they were never able to produce any real offense from there. The Jags came back with a TD right before the half, as David Garrard (17-33 for 197 yards and 3 TD passes and one pick) hit Ernest Wilford from 12 yards out with 1:01 left in the half to make it 10-7. The game changed dramatically in the third quarter, as the Jags pieced together a 20 play drive that resulted in Garrard hitting Reggie Williams with a 3-yard score to make it 16-7.
After the Steelers went three-and-out on their next possession, Garrard only needed one play to hit Dennis Northcutt with a pretty 55-yard pass in the snow that gave the Jags another TD and after another messed up extra point made it 22-7 with 3:47 left in the third quarter. The Steelers rallied, coming back to score twice as Big Ben hit Hines Ward with a TD to make it 22-14, then he came back with a 30-yard throw and catch to Nate Washington to make it 22-20. They got the two to tie it with 5:46 left.
The Jags though would not be denied, as they moved swiftly down the field, going 8 plays and 73 yards in 3:44 to get the go-ahead score to make it 29-22. The key play was a Maurice Jones-Drew 20-yard run on 3rd-and-11 from the Steelers 32 to take it ot the 12. From there two plays later Fred Taylor took it in for the game-winning score from 12 yards out.
Next week the Steelers have a short turnaround as they will travel to St.Louis to take on the Rams on Thursday night. The Jags will be at home to take on the Oakland Raiders at 1pm.