JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars saw a 16-0 lead slip away in the final 16:31 of the second half and lost their sixth straight game 20-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In a game where there were as many Terrible Towels being waved as teal-colored Jaguars towels that were given out at the entrance gates, the Jaguars seemed destined to beat Pittsburgh for the third time in two seasons, and they led until the final five seconds of the game. Here are my four biggest takeaways from the game:
The Jaguars' playoff hopes are dead
The Jaguars would likely have needed to win out to have a chance at a postseason spot. Now, they can't do that. With seven losses on the year, it is almost impossible to picture a scenario where the Jaguars will be playing in January. This is now the most disappointing season in Jaguars history, considering the expectations.
Run, run, run
The Jaguars played most of the game with three backups on the offensive line. Ereck Flowers started at left tackle, Tyler Shatley at center and Chris Reed played most of the game at right guard after A.J. Cann left with an injury. They struggled in pass protection, but the Jaguars' offensive line paved the way for the best running game of the year. Leonard Fournette, Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon combined for 162 yards on the ground. Fournette set a season high for a Jaguars running back with 95 yards rushing. There will be criticism of the Jaguars' play calling. Too many passes were called early, when the line didn't protect well, and there was not enough execution of the running plays late, when the Jaguars failed to pick up a first down in their final three possessions.
Defense was motivated
Last week in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars gave up 29 points. While they bounced back to shut out the Colts in the second half, it wasn't enough for the Jaguars to win. On Sunday, the Jaguars dominated the Steelers, holding them scoreless until the 1:31 mark of the third quarter. At halftime, Pittsburgh had just 66 yards of total offense. It was the best performance by the Jaguars defense as a group this season. The Steelers' success seemed to be bolstered by Antonio Brown's 79 yard touchdown that came out of nowhere.
If trade rumors motivated Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars should plant some more next week
Just a couple of hours before kickoff, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that several of his sources around the league said that they expected the Jaguars to trade Ramsey in the off season. The headlines made it seem like the Jaguars were planning on trading the talented and talkative cornerback. Ramsey responded with his best game of the year. He had two interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger and a lockdown performance against Antonio Brown, who was a nonfactor when Ramsey was guarding him. That is, until the fateful fourth quarter, when Brown caught a key pass to set up the Steelers' go-ahead score.