JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)Pittsburgh’s latest victory was picture perfect.
The Steelers defense gathered in the end zone after each turnover – four times in all – and posed for the cameras. Some of the celebrations were planned, some candid, most cheesy.
All of them well-deserved.
Ben Roethlisberger and Co. gladly shared the spotlight during a 27-3 drubbing of skidding Jacksonville on Sunday. After all, it was the defense’s latest and greatest performance of the season.
Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted two passes each and the Steelers steamrolled the lowly Jaguars (1-9) to get to 10-0 for the first time in franchise history.
”They’re fun to watch,” Roethlisberger said. ”They’re turning the ball, getting turnovers for us.”
Rookie quarterback Jake Luton looked lost most of the day against the blitzing Steelers, who allowed 206 yards and finished with just two sacks even though Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt dominated Jacksonville’s offensive tackles. Luton completed 16 of 37 passes for 151 yards, with four interceptions and a couple more close calls.
”No matter what happens on the last play, you’ve got to play the next one,” Luton said. ”Whatever happened last time, you can’t let it affect you. That’s the mindset I try to have. Unfortunately, it kept pouring into another bad play into another bad play and I can’t let that happen. I’ve got to clear it and move it onto the next snap.”
The turning point came late in the second quarter. With Jacksonville trailing 10-3 and driving for a potential tying touchdown, former Jaguars defensive lineman Tyson Alualu tipped Luton’s pass at the line of scrimmage. Fitzpatrick picked it off at the 2 and returned it37 yards.
”The defense is playing big,” Edmunds said. ”It’s go so much going for them. We just play for each other.”
Roethlisberger found Diontae Johnson down the left sideline a few plays later. Johnson made a leaping, juggling, contested catch at the 1, setting up Benny Snell’s TD run.
It was all Steelers the rest of the way.
”We did the job today,” coach Mike Tomlin said. ”We checked the boxes. It wasn’t perfect, but nothing is perfect about us except our record. We talked openly about that last night. We want to wear it the proper way.”
The Steelers started slow, having to settle for field goals (one made, one missed) early and weren’t really sharp in the third quarter. But they were plenty effective to beat Jacksonville, which tied a single-season franchise record with its ninth consecutive loss.
”It was a tough day,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. ”We’re all disappointed. This team has done everything it can. I’ve had zero issues. … The record’s obviously bad. I get that. I wish I could do something for them. They’re going to play for each other and the coaches. We’re all going to make sure we do our job.”
Owner Shad Khan fired then-coach Gus Bradley following his ninth straight loss in 2016.
This skid included another milestone. The Jaguars fell to 41-100 in Khan’s nine-year tenure. He tied former New Orleans Saints owner John Mecom Jr. as the second fastest to reach 100 losses. Khan hit the dubious mark in 141 games, one more than late Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse.
Roethlisberger completed 32 of 46 passes for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and interception at the end of the first half. He found rookie Chase Claypool and veteran Eric Ebron for scores.
Johnson finished with 12 catches for 111 yards.
James Conner ran 13 times for 89 yards, showing some life for a struggling ground game.
WATCH YOUR STEP
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster appeared to tweak his foot while stepping on an official’s yellow flag. Smith-Schuster was jogging off the field in the fourth when he winced and started hobbling after his cleat landed funny on the weighted part of the flag. He got checked out on the sideline and did not return. Tomlin said it was a minor injury.
The Steelers extended their sack streak to 67 consecutive games. Stephon Tuitt got to Luton for a 9-yard loss on a third-and-14 play in the third quarter. It was Pittsburgh’s 37th sack of the season, which leads the NFL.
Steelers: Tight end Zach Gentry sustained a significant knee injury. Cornerback Joe Haden suffered a minor knee injury.
Jaguars: Defensive end Josh Allen injured his left knee, but should be fine. Cornerbacks Tre Herndon (knee) and Chris Claybrooks (groin) and safety Daniel Thomas (arm) left in the second half. Marrone said Thomas will go on injured reserve. Left guard Andrew Norwell (arm) was ruled out in the third.
Steelers: Host AFC North rival Baltimore on Thanksgiving night. Pittsburgh overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to win the first meeting 28-24 earlier this month.
Jaguars: Stay in the AFC North and host Cleveland next Sunday. Jacksonville has won three straight in the series.
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