JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars turned in one of the franchise's most dominating performances in years in a 30-9 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Jaguars improved to 3-2 on the season and bounced back from last week's disappointing overtime loss to the Jets. Here's how the Jaguars answered the four biggest questions:
1. Can they stop the run?
After surrendering over 250 rushing yards last week against the Jets, the Jaguars limited the Steelers to just 70 yards and held Steelers' running back Le'veon Bell to 47 yards on 15 carries. Amazingly, against the 32nd-ranked run defense in the NFL, the Steelers opted to throw the ball 55 times, compared with 19 called running plays. Part of that was as a result of the Jaguars building a lead in the second half, but Pittsburgh's game plan certainly helped the Jaguars run defense numbers.
2. Can the defense force turnovers?
Um, yes. Yes they did. The Jaguars forced Ben Roethlisburger into a career-high five interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns. When the Jaguars win the turnover battle, they are a tough team to beat. The pass defense made a huge statement turning in such a dominant performance against the likes of Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown.
3. Can they get a lead?
The Jaguars built a lead, thanks in large part to the defense. The play calling was very mature at that point. After admitting that the coaches probably outsmarted themselves last week, the Jaguars were dedicated to the running game. They ran the ball 37 times, compared with 14 pass attempts by Blake Bortles. In fact, in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars ran the ball on 18 straight offensive snaps, including Leonard Fournette's 90-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game and the longest regular season run in Jaguars history.
4. Facing the most accomplished quarterback they will face all year, can the Jaguars pass defense rise to the occasion?
Jalen Ramsey continues to call the Jaguars defensive backfield the best in the league. This week, he referred to A.J. Bouye as the best corner in the league and graded himself in the top five. It turns out, that assessment was backed up as the Jaguars pass rush and coverage units worked well together to frustrate the Steelers and lead Jacksonville to a win to keep the team in first place in the AFC South entering Week 6 of the NFL season.