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Steelers embarrassed at home in 30-9 romping by Jacksonville

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Ben Roethlisberger threw a career-worst five interceptions, while the Steelers' defense gave up 231 rushing yards in the Jaguars' dismantling of Pittsburgh at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.

Jacksonville could be considered by fans as one of the laughing stocks in the NFL.

Nobody was smiling at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.

The Jaguars took back a claim of AFC relevancy in their 30-9 dismantling of Pittsburgh (3-2) in front of a stunned crowd on the North Shore, dominating the home Steelers in nearly every facet. 

The 21-point loss marked the worst at Heinz Field in the Mike Tomlin era.

“They played good.  They got the best of us today,” said Le’Veon Bell, who finished his day with just 47 yards on 15 carries.

Jacksonviille (3-2) issued a defensive lockdown of the Steelers, holding the unit to just 70 yards rushing (371 total yards), while picking off Ben Roethlisberger a career-worst five times, with two of those returned for a touchdown, including a Jalen Ramsey tipped pass in front of Antonio Brown, which landed in the hands of Penn Hills-native Barry Church, who took it 51-yards for the score, giving Jacksonville a commanding 20-9 advantage with just under four minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Talen Gipson led the Jaguars with two interceptions on the day, adding six tackles to the free safety's stellar defensive performance. 

“I’m not playing well enough.  Maybe I don’t have it anymore," said a flippant Roethlisberger. 

Roethlisberger, who last chucked a high of four interceptions in 2008 against the New York Giants, finished 33-of-55 for 312 yards in one of his more brutal campaigns in a black and gold uniform.

“The first pick, I got a little pressure and had to throw early,” explained Ben of his interceptions.  “Second pick, the ball got tipped and hit the linebacker in the chest.  Third one, tipped again.  Fourth one, the guy hit my arm.  That’s the way it goes some time.”

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” the veteran continued.  “I’ve had bad games before, I’ve had bad stretches.  I’ve had good ones too.  You just find a way to move on and play better.”

His final pick, a Tashuan Gipson takeaway at the goal line—on a pass intended for Antonio Brown—with just 3:22 left in the game, set up a 90-yard Leonard Fournette touchdown run just three plays later that put the official seal on Sunday’s dismal affair.

Fournette was the lone star on the field for his offense, scoring both of the Jaguars’ touchdowns on their side of the ball, rushing for 181 yards on 28 bone-crushing carries.  Quarterback Blake Bortles went 8-for-14 with just 95 yards through the air.

“Their defense provided a splash, provided the offense a short field to score points on their own,” said Mike Tomlin.  “That was really kind of the story of the game.  We turned the ball over.  We did not take care of it.  We didn’t get enough of them.”

The Jaguars, who rattled off 313 total yards offensively, put most of their weight on a defense that held Pittsburgh to just three field goals in the first half, including a momentum-shifting stand in the 3rd quarter, holding up a furious drive that deflated at the Jacksonville 2-yard line, forcing a 20-yard Chris Boswell field goal that capped a 14-play, 73-yard drive, which still gave the Steelers a 9-7 advantage.

Jacksonville would hang 23 unanswered points on the home team from that point on.

“Right now, we’re not really playing good football and we have to change that,” explained left tackle Alejandro Villanueva.  “We have the potential, we have the great coaches, we have a good gameplan, a good system, but as players, we’re just not executing well.”

Pittsburgh’s offense, which failed to find the end zone in a game for the first time since a 34-3 loss to Philadelphia on Sept. 23 of last season, went 0-for-3 in the red zone, with just seven 3rd down conversions despite a winning time of possession of 31:08.

“That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes,” Roethlisberger said.  “You play the game long enough, you’re going to get those games.”

Cam Hayward discussed the defensive side of things, where his unit was responsible for surrendering 231 rushing yards to Jacksonville.

“I think in the 4th quarter, I don’t know how long they had the ball, but they bled the clock,” said Hayward, who finished Sunday with one tackle.  “That’s on us.  We have to be more-stout, tackle better and, I don’t know what else we can do to show that, if we don’t execute, that’s what happens.”

Hayward spoke in reference of Jacksonville’s final drive, in which a 13 play, 67-yard drive that resulted in a Jason Myers 47-yard field goal chewed up a whopping 8:07 in the final quarter.

Boswell, who accounted for all nine of the Steelers’ points, hit from 20-yards and 34-yards. 

After the Spread

Pittsburgh came in as 7-point favorites against Jacksonville, losing both ATS and straight up (-360.)  The Steelers are now 2-3 ATS.

The total, which was set at 41.5 points went under with a combined score of 39 points.  The Steelers have now gone under in all five games this year.

Up Next

The Steelers will look to turn things around, as they travel to Kansas City next Sunday to face the Chiefs in a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Round playoff game.  Kickoff from Arrowhead Stradium is slated for 4:25.

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