The Jacksonville Jaguars still believe they can turn their season around, and it starts with just one win.
Finding it has never felt like more of a challenge.
The Jaguars ran the ball with authority, intercepted Ben Roethlisberger three times, kept the Pittsburgh Steelers from scoring in the first half for the first time in 33 games and had a 16-0 lead in the final minutes of the third quarter.
They still managed to lose their sixth in a row.
Roethlisberger led two touchdown drives at the end of the game, scoring from the 1 with 5 seconds left for a 20-16 victory.
“This is as tough as it gets,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “There are going to be some games you definitely lose and you’ll definitely win. But when it comes down to that last play, and you’re on the losing side of it, those hurt, especially in a situation where we’re a desperate team in need of a win.”
For a team that was 12 minutes away from the Super Bowl last year, just getting to the postseason appears unlikely. The Jaguars, whose 3-1 start included a big win early over New England, fell to 3-7 and are four games behind the AFC South-leading Houston Texans.
Roethlisberger, at one point 3 of 12 for 18 yards and two interceptions, was at his best in the end. He finished 27 of 47 for 314 yards and two touchdowns, with 170 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter.
He had plenty of help from the Steelers’ defense, which figured out to stop Leonard Fournette and came up with key sacks of Blake Bortles.
The Jaguars ran 11 players in the fourth quarter and, including three sacks, had minus-7 yards.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who last week showed some frustration with a tweet suggesting that he’ll be missed when he’s gone, came up with two interceptions by breaking on Antonio Brown. On one, he managed to keep the ball from hitting the turf. On another, when it appeared Roethlisberger had Brown for a touchdown, Ramsey reached over his helmet and somehow kept control of the ball.
After the game, he was more angry than shocked.
“I’ve been pretty (ticked) off, I’m not going to lie to you,” Ramsey said. “I’ve been battling with my emotions, trying to hold them in. … You need a little frustration. If people are in here and they’re content — not saying anybody is — but if people are content with losing and things not going right, then that’s not the type of guys you want on the team and that’s not the type of environment you want to have.”
Even when the game was going well for the Jaguars, they left points out there.
They scored on three straight possessions — all field goals by Josh Lambo.
On the first scoring drive, the Jaguars had 13 rushing plays — just one pass, a short completion — for 65 yards and stalled on a holding penalty. Another drive that started on the Pittsburgh 47 ended with a sack on Bortles.
Fournette was clearly at full strength from a hamstring injury, with 28 carries for 95 yards. He equally effective out of the backfield for two completions of 20 or more yards, leading to the only touchdown.
Against the Steelers — and given how the Jaguars’ season has gone — that wasn’t enough.
Next up is a trip to Buffalo.
“We just have to look forward to next week and try to get back in the win column,” Campbell said. “There’s still a lot of life left. I don’t know if 9-7 will get us where we want to go. We might need some help. Nobody’s quitting. If we can go and play our best ball and find a way to a 9-7 record, hopefully that will be enough to get in.
“It’s hard to win six in a row in this league, but it’s possible,” he said. “It just starts with one.”
Source: The Associated Press