Week 6 Game Recap: Jacksonville Jaguars 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
What you need to know
The story for Jacksonville was defense as they intercepted Tommy Maddox three times, and could have had two or three more. Rashean Mathis stepped in front of a Maddox curl pass to Quincy Morgan and returned it 41 yards for the game winning touchdown in overtime. Mike Peterson’s second quarter interception resulted in a Greg Jones touchdown one play later. Reggie Hayward had two sacks, defended two passes at the line of scrimmage, and recovered a fumble in overtime, but the offense could not capitalize on it. Mathis made sure that was not an issue on the Steelers’ next possession taking his interception to the house to end the game.
Without Fred Taylor (sprained ankle) the Jaguars leaned on second year back Greg Jones with a side of Alvin Pearman. Jones had good numbers, 77 yards on 18 carries, including the first touchdown of the game, a seven yard run. But overall he did not look like a starting running back getting stuffed more often than not, especially when trying to run straight ahead. His long of 25 plus his score gave him two carries for 32 yards, which left his remaining 45 yards gained on 16 carries (2.8 ypc). Pearman finished with 57 total yards, but only 22 rushing on 15 carries.
Byron Leftwich’s numbers weren’t great (19-35-1-177) and only had one pass of over 20 yards. Of the Jaguars’ 14 possessions, only two of them went longer than 34 yards – one for 58 yards in which they turned it over on downs (on the Steelers’ two yard line) and another for 56 yards, which ended in a Leftwich touchdown pass to Matt Jones in the third quarter. The touchdown was a sensational one handed catch that held up upon an official’s review. Other than that, Leftwich was mediocre at best as several of his passes were overthrown or off the mark, particularly on sideline routes. He also threw an interception near the end of regulation when all the Jaguars needed was better field goal positioning (they could have at least tried a 49 yarder).
No one receiver stood out, other than the Matt Jones’ touchdown catch, but six different players caught at least two passes, the longest of which went for 41 to Reggie Williams. Williams had 50 yards, while Pearman led the team with five catches for 35 yards.
Tommy Maddox rushed back from a strained calf injury to start ahead of a healthy Charlie Batch in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger’s knee injury last week in San Diego. The results were disastrous as he went 11 of 28 for 154 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions, a fumble and more bad passes than one can count. He managed to find TE Heath Miller for a 15 yard score in the second quarter, although the offense itself gained only 21 yards on the drive while 44 yards were gained via penalties. Maddox picked up his game briefly when Pittsburgh went to the hurry up offense to start the fourth quarter but Jeff Reed could only convert one of two field goal attempts, missing from 46 yards out with 3:28 left in regulation. Maddox then fumbled to the Jaguars in overtime, after a kick return set them up on Jacksonville’s 29 yard line, and later threw the game winning interception to Rashean Mathis, who scored from 41 yards out.
The running game didn’t help either, as Willie Parker had just 55 yards on 21 carries. Jerome Bettis saw little action with four yards on four carries. The longest run for Pittsburgh came on a Maddox scramble for 16 yards. Parker’s long went for 12 and for the second consecutive week did not seem to have that flair and or deceiving power that he had earlier this season.
The lone bright spot came from Heath Miller who had four receptions for 72 yards and scored while bouncing off three tacklers. Antwaan Randle El, Cedrick Wilson and Quincy Morgan did little to make up for Hines Ward’s absence who was nursing a sore hamstring, although with Maddox turning the ball over four times, they didn’t get much of a chance.
Special teams kept the Steelers afloat, as Randle El had a 72 yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and Quincy Morgan gave Pittsburgh a seemingly easy chance to win the game in overtime, with a 71 yard kickoff return to the Jaguars 29 yard line.
What you ought to know
|QB Byron Leftwich, Pass: 19 - 35 - 177 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0|
Per usual Leftwich got bruised and battered from a heavy pass rush, and per usual he dusted himself off and kept on marching against the Steelers scraping together 19 completions. But rarely did he lead Jacksonville on long sustaining drives and the Jags had to settle for a field goal after he failed to convert a drive that began on Pittsburgh’s 16 yard. He did hit Matt Jones for a ten yard touchdown, but even that pass was long, and Jones snatched it with one hand for the score. Leftwich also threw several deep balls near the end of regulation when they only needed to get a little closer for a game winning field goal. He went to the well one too many times and was intercepted in the end zone. Pittsburgh won the overtime coin toss, but turned it over twice (four times overall), essentially saving Leftwich and his average at best performance.
Pearman chipped in with 55 total yards. He had no luck on the ground, however, with just 22 yards on 15 carries and a long gain of eight. He was effective on check downs and screens from Leftwich and picked up 35 yards receiving.
|RB Greg Jones, Rush: 18 - 77 - 1, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets)|
Jones started in place of Fred Taylor who was out with a sprained ankle. He had respectable numbers, but certainly did not live up to Taylor’s consistency. He got into a groove mid first quarter as he had runs of 12, 25 and 5 and 8 yards that should have led to some kind of points, be it three or six, but he was stopped for no gain on third and two and again on fourth down. Outside of those early runs, Jones ran for 27 yards on his remaining 14 carries, including a seven yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Nevertheless, on paper, it was a decent day overall.
Taylor was ruled out for the game with a sprained ankle. Taylor had vowed to play and was listed as questionable all week. With a bye week upcoming, an improvement in his condition should be expected for the Jaguars’ next game at St. Louis.
|WR Matt Jones, Rush: 1 - -7 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 1 (2 targets)|
Matt Jones had the catch of the day and made Leftwich look good with a one handed grab for a 10 yard touchdown in the third quarter. He also caught another 10 yarder where he fought vigorously for the first down on Jacksonville’s final drive in regulation, putting them in field goal range. Jones had one rushing attempt for negative seven yards.
Smith had an unusually quiet day even after CB Deshea Townsend left the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. His three receptions gave him 815 for his career and it moved him into 10th place tie with Shannon Sharpe on the all time receivers list for receptions.
Williams led the Jaguars in yards with 50 and had the longest catch in the game with a 41 yard reception in single coverage earlier in the third quarter. After Troy Polamalu unnecessarily roughed him, the Jaguars were in scoring range, and they did so three plays later on Matt Jones’ touchdown catch. Williams could only manage nine yards on his other two receptions.
Wilford had two receptions for 18 yards.
Brady’s role was typically low key as he collected 15 yards on three short receptions.
Scobee converted a 23 yard field goal and made both of his extra point attempts.
The Jaguars, who had given up the third most rushing yards through the first six weeks, allowed just 24 first half yards and 73 overall on 30 carries. The longest gains against them were a QB scramble for 16 yards and a Willie Parker run for 12. No other runs went for double digits. They also stopped Jerome Bettis on a third and one situation early in the game. DT John Henderson came in as an eligible receiver in the second quarter but was overthrown in the end zone.
Jacksonville picked off three passes, had two sacks, recovered a fumble and defended nine passes all at the expense of Tommy Maddox. Mike Peterson returned a first quarter INT to Pittsburgh’s 7, setting up a touchdown. Reggie Hayward had two sacks and recovered a fumble in OT, and Rashean Mathis picked off a Maddox pass for a touchdown in overtime for the win.
|QB Tommy Maddox, Pass: 11 - 28 - 154 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0|
Maddox had about as bad a day as a quarterback can have earning a QB rating of 30.1. His three interceptions (could have been five) were three more than Ben Roethlisberger has thrown all year. Maddox frequently missed his receivers with late throws or ground balls. He threw into heavy traffic, telegraphed many of his passes and showed all kinds of signs of a player who hadn’t played a regular season down since last December. Maddox took advantage of several penalties that put the Steelers in the red zone and found a wide Heath Miller for a 15 yard touchdown in the second quarter, and briefly revived the offense when they went to a hurry up strategy. He completed four of five passes setting up a Jeff Reed field goal in the fourth quarter, and two of four on the next drive that ended with a missed field goal. But he ended the game turning the ball over twice as many drives, the last of which was a 41 yard interception for a touchdown by Rashean Mathis.
Roethlisberger lobbied coach Bill Cowher to play this week after his knee was hyperextended in San Diego, but as a precaution he sat out. The good news for Roethlisberger owners is that he was in uniform and listed third on the depth chart, which means he could have played if needed (and boy did they need him). Asked if he’ll play next week, Cowher quipped, “We’ll see.”
Parker wasn’t as bad as last week, but wasn’t much better either. He averaged just 2.8 yards per carry and once again did not get the open space necessary to display his speed. He did look better in the trenches as he was able to break a few tackles here and there, but not on any consistent level. Parker was also stripped by Akin Ayodele on the first play of overtime, but recovered it safely.
Bettis had 17 carries last week at San Diego, but did not get much action yesterday with just four yards on as many carries. He was stuffed on third and one early in the first quarter and was brought in to finish out the second quarter for a couple of series, but did not have the impact he had the previous week. He did not see any time during the second half.
Haynes had negative yards rushing and caught a screen pass for 11 yards on third and forever.
With Hines Ward (hamstring) out, Randle El became the go to guy, but as Maddox struggled, so too did Randle El’s numbers. He was looked to often (12 targets), but was often under thrown and he could only muster 27 yards on three receptions. His first two receptions came within the first four minutes of the game. Randle El kept the game exciting with a 72 yard punt return for a touchdown in which he cut to his left after TE Jerame Tuman cleared the sideline with a huge block. His remaining four returns totaled an additional 22 yards.
Morgan’s playing time increased with Ward’s injury and had two catches for 33 yards, with a long of 18 when Maddox ran out of the pocket and found Morgan rolling with him. Morgan’s 71 kickoff return in the overtime period put the Steelers in game winning field goal range, and he was also the intended receiver on the Rashean Mathis interception for a touchdown in overtime.
Wilson was not much of a factor with his one reception for 11 yards.
Miller had his second solid week in a row, leading the Steelers with four receptions, 72 yards and a touchdown. He made tough catches over the middle and broke tackles in the process. For his 15 yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, he faked out Mike Peterson in coverage, and bounced off three tacklers at the two yard line before diving forward into the end zone.
Reed made a field goal from 29 yards but missed a go ahead field goal attempt wide right with 3:28 remaining. He converted both extra point attempts.
The Steelers held the Jags to 93 yards on 35 carries. They were loose at times, but came up big in stopping Jacksonville twice on fourth down including a goal line stand at the end of the first half where they caused the offensive line to false start and yielded just a field goal.
They gave up just one play over 20 yards and outside of a dazzling one handed catch by Matt Jones, limited Leftwich to short and efficient completions. They had three sacks and prevented the Jaguars from converting three deep balls at the end of regulation. Rookie CB Bryant McFadden, who subbed in for injured Deshea Townsend (hamstring), had his first career interception with 0:19 left in the game to force overtime.