Jaguars came out with a full head of steam
The first half of the game was an ugly affair for the Steelers. Jacksonville, with a committee at running back and a healthy Leonard Fournette to lead them, used the ground game to control time of possession and turn their offensive drives into long, time-burners. Pittsburgh showed how important Stephon Tuitt has become to their run-stopping ability on defense; with Tuitt out, the Jaguars chewed up turf on play-after-play while the Steelers were unable to keep it from happening.
Neither team was able to put points on the scoreboard in a very slow first quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger had a tough opening half as the Jaguars played good defense up front, eliminating James Conner from being able to generate much offense. Their front seven applied consistent pressure, forcing Roethlisberger to throw into tight coverage - and toss two interceptions. It was reminiscent of the games Pittsburgh and Jacksonville played in 2017 and had Steelers fans in an uproar.
Second half full of theatrics
Whether it was the fans on social media having a mini-meltdown, T.J. Watt earning a sack on Blake Bortles, the fact that the Jaguars were able to get Fournette airborne for a leaping touchdown over the goal line or just more illogical play from the Steelers, things certainly got interesting when Roethlisberger finally connected with Antonio Brown in stride for a 78-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter. The Steelers were unable to convert the two-point play but got back into the game, down 6-16.
The Jaguars continued to pressure Roethlisberger heavily, earning their first sack on the game and playing tight coverage on the receivers. The Steelers defense, forced back onto the field, dialed up some pressure of their own and earned a sack with Vince Williams and Cam Heyward dumping Bortles to the turf. It forced a time-out by Jacksonville at a time when Pittsburgh seemed to be making adjustments towards a run-stop first defensive scheme. Heyward sacked Bortles again to force the Jaguars to punt and give the Steelers favorable field position.
Roethlisberger would get an opportunity to get the Steelers marching in the early fourth quarter. Spreading the ball around, he hit Ryan Switzer twice and JuJu Smith-Schuster as he watched for a favorable matchup between Brown and the Jaguars defenders. Roethlisberger was sacked again, setting up a long conversion play on fourth down. Conner was unable to handle the quick sling-pass at the sideline as he was hit at the same time the ball arrived as Big Ben scrambled and spun to avoid pressure.
After shutting down Fournette and the Jacksonville run game, the Steelers defense watched Hargrave bat a ball down on third down to force the punt. Switzer faked out the Jaguars coverage team and allowed the ball to roll into the end zone for a touchback, giving Roethlisberger and the offense a shot at driving down the field.
On the ensuing drive, Brown was the recipient of a Jalen Ramsey facemask and the penalty allowed the Steelers offense to get creative, using Conner in the passing game and a nice pass along the left sideline to Smith-Schuster for a needed first down. The quick-pass helped Roethlisberger keep the offense marching forward by getting the ball out before pressure could get to him. With the sun in his face, Roethlisberger faced a third-and-1 with just over three minutes left in the game and found Conner again for a quick pass to the sideline. Vance McDonald would come down with the touchdown catch after going vertical over Telvin Smith at the back of the end zone. Chris Boswell's PAT put the Steelers within three points; 13-16.
With just two minutes to go in the game, the Steelers sniffed out the Jaguars' plan to run Fournette and were stingy with their front four limiting yardage. Williams got in on the third-down play off the snap, Bud Dupree sealing the outside while down on the turf, and ended the drive to give the Steelers offense the ball back.
After a great catch by Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger had Conner wide open for a touchdown on a soft floating pass, but Conner could not hold onto the pass. Brown caught the next pass on the run to the three-yard line and the momentum was all in Pittsburgh's favor. After calling timeout with 22 seconds on the game clock, Roethlisberger slung the ball into the end zone - right into the arms of a Jaguars defender. Due to a penalty flag, the officials stopped the clock; the Jaguars defender grabbed the facemask of Switzer, which is how he was able to make the interception. The call allowed Pittsburgh to get the ball back and throw a fade, but the Jaguars again earned a penalty due to interference. The clock down to eight seconds, Roethlisberger used the quarterback option and slammed into the end zone for the comeback touchdown.
After Jacksonville played possibly their best game of the year, the Steelers would win on the Roethlisberger extra effort; 20-16. It was an emotional win for Roethlisberger and the Steelers after looking so badly for a majority of the game.