Steelers offense faces tough test in stout Jacksonville pass defense

Tuesday, 10 Oct, 2017

When the Steelers have the ball, they'll want to feed Le'Veon Bell, who is coming off his best game of the season.

The Jaguars could be without starting receiver Marqise Lee and starting center Brandon Linder for Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.

Yet the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback was completely fine with it.

Not to be outdone by Cassel, Cutler was in full April Ludgate mode, with 21 yards and an interception in the first half.

Twice the Steelers moved the ball into the red zone and both times the Jaguars defense stiffened and held them to field goals.

-Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Jaguars CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Boone.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles passed for just 95 yards and a pick, but the way Fournette ran the ball and the defense pushed the Steelers around, it hardly mattered. Bubble screens, quick slants and the occasional run had Pittsburgh knocking on the door in their opening drive but the Jaguars defense stiffened again and forced a FG, 9-7 Steelers.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars will need to have their best effort of the year on the ground in order to beat the Steelers. Jacksonville defensive lineman Abry Jones tipped it into the hands of Smith, who chugged 28 yards to put Jacksonville in front with 6:38 left in the period. Pittsburgh leads the all time series 12-11.

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They shouldn't make the same mistake this Sunday in Kansas City, the spot where Bell broke off 170 yards on 30 carries in last year's playoffs.

"They stopped the run", Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva said.

The Jaguars provided a blueprint for teams that don't use the outsize zone system in their running game. Ramsey has been one of the surest pass defenders in Jaguars history and is only in his second year. Cutler threw for 59 yards in the fourth quarter when he saw that victory was likely and, like the lovably indifferent Ludgate in later seasons of Parks and Recreation, started doing the bare minimum.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was the kind of play the Jaguars were looking for when they signed Gipson as a free agent past year.

Throwing just 14 passes in yesterday's 30-9 win, Jacksonville threw the least of any National Football League team in any game this year or last year. He's tough, he's shifty, but he is also plenty fast.

That does not mean, however, this team can not have a successful season and get to where it wants to go, though many fans will be jumping off that bandwagon after yesterday's debacle. The bubble screen was there early but the Jaguars, especially Aaron Colvin, figured it out.

But it would be the Jaguars defense that would deliver the next blow.

The Jaguars have only two other healthy receivers who have caught a pass this season: undrafted rookie Keelan Cole (four catches) and veteran Arrelious Benn (one), whose main role is on special teams.