Jacksonville Jaguars punch Pittsburgh Steelers in the mouth again, advance to AFC Championship

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars shock the Pittsburgh Steelers again, and head to New England for AFC title game.

This. Team.

The Jacksonville Jaguars pull off what many thought they couldn’t on Sunday, and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs, 45-42. Along with the Jaguars winning, the score itself was unexpected by most.

Jacksonville came out swinging from the opening possession, marching right down the field for an eight play, 66 yard touchdown drive. But the early hits didn’t stop there. The Jaguars kept punching, and gained a 21-0 lead before the Steelers could even blink.

But Pittsburgh is still Pittsburgh, and the Steelers woke up and put serious pressure on Jacksonville. After a scoop and score by Telvin Smith to push the lead to 28-7, a long touchdown pass was completed against lackadaisical coverage by Tashaun Gibson on a fourth-and-eleven to pull Pittsburgh within 14 at halftime. Pittsburgh then scored on the first possession of the second half, and it looked as if the Steelers had corralled all the momentum.

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But the story of this game, was the absolute resiliency of the Jacksonville Jaguars offense. Answer after answer, score after score. Every time the Steelers scored to bring the game to one possession, the Jaguars responded with points of their own to widen the lead back.

Blake Bortles‘ numbers on Sunday don’t jump off the stat sheet, but the quarterback made the plays he had to make. Bortles stepped up and made crucial third down throws to keep the chains moving on numerous occasions, and hit over the top to Keelan Cole for a 45 yard completion to the three yard line to set up another score. Leonard Fournette continued to dominate at Heinz Field, adding three more touchdowns to bring his total to five rushing scores in Pittsburgh.

If you had told me before the game that the Jaguars would score 45 points, I admittedly would have called you crazy. But Jacksonville did just that, with a marvelous performance from an offense that has been called out for the better part of three weeks, and more opportunistic plays from the defense.

With the defeat of Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Jaguars do once more what only they have accomplished in NFL history, beating the Steelers on their own turf twice in the same season.

The magical season continues for at least another week for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars will travel to New England to face Tom Brady and the Patriots for a trip to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl. If Sunday showed us anything, it’s that Jacksonville fears no opponent, and that won’t change next week, even against the defending champs.

The Pittsburgh Steelers talked the talk all week long. A lot. A whole lot. But it was the Jacksonville Jaguars who walked the walk, and continues to play in the 2017 season.