In what could have been a classic trap game for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they instead beat down on the Jaguars to the tune of a 27-3 victory. The Steelers remain the only undefeated team in the NFL and sit at 10-0 for the first time in franchise history. The run game finally showed some life and the defense put together a clinic all game.
Another game and another stellar performance from Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers deep wideout core. Ben continues to let everyone in this offense produce and alternate his favorite target every week. For the second game in a row, Diontae Johnson was the man with 12 catches for 111 yards. It wasn’t just a productive statline, as he had numerous dynamic catches in the first half. One where he made a leaping grab on third down and another where he kept his balance and caught it off a bobble with one hand.
The Ben to Claypool duo struck again for another score. This time on a deep pass which feels like it’s been awhile since they’ve been able to connect on one. Claypool’s 10 touchdowns in 10 games makes him the only rookie receiver to do so in the Super Bowl era. He also had two other timely catches to move the chains including one on the sideline where he dragged his second toe inbounds to complete the catch.
The Steelers passing attack has carried this offense all year and Ben has been the difference maker. His day totaled a 69% completion percentage for 267 yards, 2 TDs and one pick. The other touchdown was a rope to Ebron that ended the game with the interception occurring on a deep pass at the end of the first half.
In the trenches, the Steelers finally showed some signs of life. James Conner finished with 89 yards and 6.8 yards per carry. The solid production was more Conner than the offensive line as he turned seemingly negative plays with no running holes into first down runs three times. They did get one rushing touchdown via a Benny Snell goal line score right after Johnson’s amazing bobble catch.
When it comes to the offensive line, they are becoming possibly the league’s best group pass protection wise. This is the third straight game where Ben hasn’t been sacked and they rank inside the top five in terms of fewest pressures allowed. Run blocking was an improvement over the last couple weeks but still not great. However, with how dangerous the passing game can be, how good does the run blocking need to truly be? It for sure needs to be more consistent but this offense can live with it not being great.
This was a good day for the offense but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any negatives. I’m usually very hesitant to blame play calling right away but it’s become apparent that the Steelers OC, Randy Fichtner is still a problem. There was a theme on offense today for the Steelers; every time the sequence of run, run, pass got called, the drive was stalled and they punted. Meanwhile, every time the Steelers did anything but that sequence of play calls, the offense moved the ball with ease.
You’d think Fichtner would get the picture, but sure enough the first series out of the half, they go back to the run, run, pass formula which never gets a first down. It’s been like this every week and luckily Ben is able to seize control by game’s end and lead the offense to score points. They’ve been able to score enough to win every game but they must abandon the run, run, pass formula all together.
The Steelers defense allowed the Jags to drive down the field and kick a field goal on their first drive. But didn’t allow a single scoring drive for the next 55 minutes of football. Pittsburgh had more turnovers forced than Jacksonville had points scored with four interceptions to just a mere field goal. All in all, the defense flew all over the field both up front and in the back end. Wherever a Jaguar was to catch the ball, a Steeler defender met them immediately and brought them down. The tackling was strong, turnovers were forced, pressure was brought, and running gaps were closed all on a consistent basis. The Steelers third down defense continues to excel, as the Jags went 4/13 on third down conversions.
Both safeties, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds both ended up with two interceptions a piece. For Edmunds, this is the first time in his career in the NFL or college that he’s had a multiple pick game. He out of anyone deserves it the most because of the improvements he’s made this year. The splash plays finally came for him which rewards his consistent and stellar play all season. Minkah continues to prove he is one of the game’s best ball hawkers regardless of position. His ball skills and instincts are what makes him special and the stats proved it today.
As previously mentioned, it was a team effort on defense as Vince Williams and Fitzpatrick led the team in tackles but only had five each. Haden and Sutton were great in coverage and made it tough for Jags receivers to not only catch the ball but also get yards after catch. The pressure didn’t show up big in the sacks category but the blitzes and pressures flustered Luton.
Pittsburgh had two sacks with one from Dupree and the other by Tuitt and seven QB hits. While two sacks doesn’t seem great, Luton had a horrid completion percentage of 43% mainly because he was under duress the entire game. The run defense was good but not great as the dynamic James Robinson had 73 yards on 4.3 yards per carry. There were times when the gaps were stuffed but also times when Robinson was able to gain chunk yardage.
Mike Hilton and Tyson Alualu played their first meaningful snaps in a few weeks. Hilton had one tackle and Alualu tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that led to Minkah’s first interception that was in the red zone. An overall great defensive performance helped take pressure off of the offense and was a catalyst for this win to advance to 10-0.
Next week will be the first Steelers prime time game since week one which was a Monday Night Football game against the Giants. Steelers vs Ravens on Thanksgiving night will be a treat for the entire NFL world to watch. The Ravens are coming off of an overtime loss to the Titans and have fallen to third in the division behind the 7-3 Browns. A win for the Steelers would effectively end the Ravens hopes of winning the division.