Ben Roethlisberger was far from perfect until the fourth quarter, and that was all that mattered for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One week after Roethlisberger had a perfect quarterback rating, he overcame three interceptions and a 16-0 deficit by leading two late scoring drives. He lunged in from the 1 for the winning score with 5 seconds left for a 20-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The Steelers (7-2-1) won their sixth straight and likely ended any playoff hopes for the Jaguars, who eliminated Pittsburgh in the divisional round last year.
The Jaguars (3-7) dropped their sixth in a row in a game they controlled until the final five minutes.
Leonard Fournette ran for 95 yards and caught two passes for 46 yards that led to the Jaguars’ only touchdown when he launched himself from the 4 and scored for a 16-0 lead with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Roethlisberger, who now has 10 turnovers in his last three games against Jacksonville, took over from there.
He got safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. to bite on a pump fake and found Antonio Brown open deep in the middle of the field for a 78-yard touchdown.
Still trailing by 10 points with just under six minutes remaining, Roethlisberger found tight end Vance McDonald in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 16-13 with 2:28 remaining.
Pittsburgh kicked off and the Jaguars went three-and-out, and then Roethlisberger led a 68-yard drive. He hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on the left sideline for a 35-yard gain to the 27 that at least got the Steelers in field goal position.
James Conner, throttled in the running game, dropped a sure touchdown when he got behind linebacker Telvin Smith Sr., turning his eyes to goal line as the ball bounced off his hands. No matter. Roethlisberger hit Brown over the middle to the 2, and after a pair of penalties, Roethlisberger rolled to his right and surged across the line on a 1-yard score that was upheld on review.
Roethlisberger was 27 of 47 for 314 yards, 170 of them in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars held the ball nearly twice as long, with 13 rushing plays on a 15-play drive early in the game. But all they managed in the first half were three field goals from Josh Lambo. It was the first time in 33 games the Steelers had been blanked in the first half.
Blake Bortles was largely ineffective, throwing for just 104 yards and getting back six times. His biggest gains were to Fournette out of the backfield, and the Steelers stopped Jacksonville cold in the fourth quarter to get enough chances to win.
Pittsburgh came into the game tied for the league lead with 31 sacks and got to Bortles six times. Javon Hargrave and T.J. Watt each had two.
Watt now has 17 career sacks, the most by a Steelers player in his first two seasons since Keith Willis, who had 15 in 1982 and 1983.
One week after Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey tweeted after a loss to the Colts that “when I’m gone from here, y’all gone miss me,” he had his best game of the year. Ramsey had two interceptions, none bigger than in the end zone over Brown.
With the Steelers trailing 9-0 in the third quarter, Roethlisberger threw to Brown over the middle. Ramsay reached over Brown’s helmet and juggled the ball before pulling it in. He tried to run out of the end zone, stumbled and kept going until he was ruled down by contact.
Ramsey also broke across the middle on Brown and made a diving pick, somehow keeping the ball off the turf on a play initially ruled incomplete but overturned on review.
James Conner came into the game with 771 yards rushing, tops in the AFC. He didn’t have much room against Jacksonville, gaining 25 yards on nine attempts.
Steelers: On the road against the Denver Broncos next Sunday.
Jaguars: At the Buffalo Bills next Sunday.
Source: The Associated Press