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Steel Going: Losing skid hits 9 for sinking Jaguars

Steelers pick off 4 passes and keep Jacksonville in a rut

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Pittsburgh fans provided the Terrible Towels.

Jacksonville provided the Terrible Team.

The Steelers’ punishing defense overwhelmed rookie quarterback Jake Luton and crushed the Jaguars 27-3 on a rainy Sunday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field.

The loss was Jacksonville’s ninth consecutive defeat, the second-longest losing streak in franchise history. Jacksonville lost 13 straight between the 2012 and ’13 seasons, the end of the Mike Mularkey era and the beginning of the Gus Bradley regime. It marked the 100th loss since Shad Khan became owner of the franchise in 2012.

The rugged second half of the schedule continues next week when Jacksonville (1-9) hosts Cleveland. Among the remaining opponents, only the Vikings are under .500.

The Jaguars remain locked into the No. 2 pick in next spring’s NFL draft, trailing only the winless New York Jets.

In a season full of miserable losses, this one topped them all.

Jacksonville’s offense was anemic.

It mustered just a 41-yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin on the opening drive of the game and nothing after that. Luton struggled from start to finish throwing four interceptions and constantly struggling with his accuracy in one of the worst performances by a Jaguars quarterback in franchise history.

Pittsburgh’s pass rush had quite a bit to do with those struggles as the game wore on, but Luton was erratic even without pressure. He finished a miserable 16 of 37 for 151 yards.

The defense played well for the second week in a row, but lost its top pass rusher, Josh Allen, to a third quarter knee injury, and saw numerous defensive backs get banged up. Starters Sidney Jones and CJ Henderson were already out with injury.

While the defense has shown an uptick in improvement since the bye week — it entered the off week having allowed six straight games of 30 points or more — the offense has continued to tail off. The point total was Jacksonville’s lowest since a 26-3 loss to Houston on Nov. 3, 2019.

The Jaguars couldn’t do much of anything against the Steelers defense.

Luton was picked off twice, including on a deflected pass near the end of the first half and Jacksonville driving. Former Jaguars player Tyson Alualu swamped Luton and Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted it at the 2 and returned it to near midfield.

Pittsburgh (10-0) capitalized on that miscue with Ben Roethlisberger driving the Steelers down the field, including two beautiful throws to Diontae Johnson. His 23-yard catch off of a bobbled ball went down to the Jacksonville 1 and set up an easy Bennie Snell touchdown run.

That flipped the tone of the game.

Jacksonville was on its way to a potentially game-tying touchdown and wound up going down by 14 in just minutes.

Injuries became the story of the game after that. Offensive guard Andrew Norwell injured his arm and didn’t return. Cornerback D.J. Hayden, who was just activated from injured reserve this week, injured his knee in the fourth quarter and didn’t return.

Rookie cornerback Chris Claybrooks suffered a groin injury. The biggest loss was Allen, last year’s first-round pick and the only legitimate pass rush threat the Jaguars have, suffered a knee injury and didn’t come back.

Roethlisberger finished 32 of 46 for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Receiver Diontae Johnson had 12 catches for 111 yards. Jaguars undrafted rookie running back James Robinson rushed for 73 yards on 17 carries and went over the 1,000 yards from scrimmage barrier in the game.


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