Playing with a sense of revenge as well as taking on a new attitude to not let injuries get them down, the Steelers got a huge effort from Ben Roethlisberger and a late defensive stand in winning a big road game, 26-21 over the Jacksonville Jaguars. All week long the storyline for the now 4-1 Steelers was how beat up they were, as well as how the Jags had their number, as they had beaten them twice last year (regular season and playoffs) and in 05 and 06.
But this night was not about the past, nor was it about what the Steelers don’t have due to their injuries. Instead, it was about Roethlisberger, who threw for 237 yards and two scores in the first half and directed scoring drives of 71, 59, 82 and 66 yards. The big drive though came late, as the Steelers trailed 21-20. He led the team down the field with the help of RB Mewelde Moore, and got the team in range for a go-ahead field goal with just under two minutes left.
Instead of that though, he went for the kill, and on third down from the 8 he threw a great fade pass to Hines Ward for what turned out to be the game-winning score. The Jags, who were a step behind it seemed all night, had two time outs when they got the ball back, but the Steelers D stepped up, got to David Garrard a few times, and in the end held after Jacksonville got just one first down. Aaron Smith cemented the win with a knock down of a Garrard pass on 4th down with less than a minute left.
Roethlisberger led an offensive attack that put up 300 first half yards, and 415 on the night. The Pro Bowl QB went 26-for-41 for 309 yards with three TD’s and a pick. It was that INT that got the Jags on the board first as Rashean Mathis took it back 72 yards for the first score of the game at the 12:49 mark of the first quarter.
The Steelers answered, as they marched 71 yards in 12 plays and Ben hit Heath Miller for a short TD to make it 7-7. Jacksonville had their best drive on the night on their next series, as they drove down and scored on a Maurice Jones-Drew run to make it 14-7. After a Jeff Reed field goal, Roethlisberger on the next Steelers drive went deep to Nate Washington for a 48-yard score that made it 17-14 with 9:20 left in the half.
Another Reed field goal with :45 left in the quarter made it 20-14 at the half. The Jags scored in the fourth when Garrard hit TE Marcedes Lewis down the middle for 24 TD that made it 21-20 Jags with 14:05 to go. Both teams traded possessions until Ben led the team on their game-winning drive that covered 75 yards in 11 plays. Roethlisberger hit Ward for a big 16-yard gain in the drive, and then four plays later Moore went left for 27 yards to the Jags 33.
Moore, filling in for the injured Willie Parker, went for 99 yards on 17 carries. He also caught 3 passes for 17 yards. Washington led the Steelers with 94 yards on six catches. The Steelers improve to 4-1, in the drivers seat in the AFC North, two up on the Ravens.
The Jags fall to 2-3 on the year, and the loss breaks their two-game winning streak. They have a tough game next week, as they head to Denver to play the 4-1 Broncos.