Mark Brunell: Loss to Steelers beyond disappointing

Jaguars go from fighting for the playoffs to playing for their jobs


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars got back to being the Jaguars, but it wasn’t enough as the Pittsburgh Steelers won a nail-biter 20-16. For most of the game, the Jaguars played solid defense and ran the ball effectively. It looked like a big win for the home team, a win that would’ve kept playoff hopes alive.

But Ben Roethlisberger did what he often does when the game comes down to the last drive: He orchestrated an impressive two-minute drive and a touchdown that put the Steelers up with only five seconds left on the clock.

This is the exact formula Doug Marrone has hoped to see each week for his 2018 team: Run the ball, create turnovers and take care of the ball.

The defense, after last week's busted coverages and poor play, had few miscues, picked off the Steelers' QB and never allowed him to get into a rhythm -- until the fourth quarter.

Yesterday's loss was crushing. To be so effective on defense for most of the day and then lose pretty much destroys any playoff hopes the Jaguars had.

On offense, it was good to see the run game be so effective. Leonard Fournette had a solid day on the ground, especially in the first half. He ran for 95 yards on the ground total with 3.4 yards per carry.

The Jaguars controlled the game on the ground, which was a good thing considering the lack of a passing game. Blake Bortles again took care of the ball, but he failed to get it downfield. Blake finished with 104 yards passing. Clearly not enough.


But Blake not having a great day in the air is not entirely his fault. The pass protection is as bad as it's ever been. The beat-up offensive line simply did nothing to give Blake the time to even look downfield. To his credit, Blake made some nice plays checking the ball down. Say what you want about our quarterback, but he has little to work with and still found ways to keep the chains moving.

Again, until the fourth quarter. The Jaguars offense finished the day with three consecutive three-and-outs.

I think we can all agree that this year is beyond a disappointment. Expectations were so high going in, and yet the team sits at 3-7. What is so maddening is the fact that it is, essentially, the same team as 2017.

This will be a tough week to come back from. Fortunately, the Jaguars travel to Buffalo for a very winnable game. The question is whether this team will quit or keep fighting. Six games remain as the shift goes from fighting for the playoffs to playing for their jobs.

Go Jaguars!

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