In an exciting finish that was totally unexpected, the Jacksonville Jaguars survived after blowing an 18-point fourth quarter lead only to kick a last second field goal to top the game Pittsburgh Steelers 31-29 at Heinz Field in Pittbsburgh. The Jags seemed on the verge of defeat on their last drive, as they had a 4th-and-2 from the Steelers 43 with 1:56 left. QB David Garrard, who had a rather forgettable night, took off and rushed 32 yards to get the Jags in field goal range. Three plays later, Josh Scobee kicked the chip shot 25-yard field goal, sealing the Jags win.
The Steelers jumped out fast, going down the field with ease and scoring on their first drive of the game. Ben Roethlisberger was sharp, hitting wide outs and pass catchers all over the place, as the team went 80 yards in 10 plays with Najeh Davenport going over from a yard out to quickly make it 7-0. The Jags responded in two plays, as Maurice Jones-Drew took the next kickoff 96 yards, and then Fred Taylor went in from a yard out to make it 7-7 with 9:39 left in the first quarter.
The Jaguars dominated the rest of the half, as first they scored on a pick 6 as Rashean Mathis took a bad Roethlisberger pass back 63 yards at the 10:19 mark of the second quarter to make it 14-7. Then on the next drive, Ben again was picked, and the Jags responded with a Garrard to Jones-Drew TD on 3rd-and-7 that covered 43 yards that made it 21-7 with 8:34 left in the half. The Steelers had their shots, but late in the half from the Jags 21, Roethlisberger again was picked, this time stopping a drive that likley would have at least gotten them three.
After Pittsburgh made it 21-10 on a Reed field goal in the third, the Jags looked as if it would be a laugher, as Jones-Drew capped a drive with a nifty 10-yard run that made it 28-10 with 4:39 left in the third quarter. That’s when the Steelers finally woke up. Roethlisberger went on fire for the rest of the game, first with a TD on the first play of the fourth quarter on fourth down to Santonio Holmes that made it 28-17. After a Jags 3-and-out, the Steelers scored again, this time capping a drive with Ben hitting Heath Miller from 10 yards out to make it 28-23 with 10:25 left.
Garrard, who usually is mistake free, again threw a pick, his second, and Ike Taylor took it to the Jags 16. Ben was back at work, getting down to the Jags one after a pass interference on 4th down, and Davenport scored again, but the 2-point conversion was no good, leaving the Steelers up 29-28. The Steelers D held, but the offense was unable to get a first, leaving the Jags that one last shot, and they would take advantage of it.
This game was what football is all about. It had great physical play on both sides, came down to the end, and showed why the AFC is so much better than the NFC. Garrard deserves a ton of credit for not folding after the two huge picks, and he should get a lot of props for the great fourth down run that got the Jags in field goal range. For the Steelers, no doubt it was a game effort for a team that simply was banged up all over the place. No Willie Parker, hurting all over the offensive line, and even kick returner Allen Rossum was out. No one can say that the Steelers got out muscled, like everyone did after the first meeting.
So it appears that the Jags will head to New England next weekend for a meeting with the undefeated Pats. No question it will be a HUGE upset if the Jags can pull it off. But, they’ve come this far, so all they can do it give it their best shot. If they play the Colts, it will be a classic AFC South showdown, one that they would love to have since they have lost to them twice this season.