Jacksonville Jaguars: Top three performers in Divisional Round win over Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Blake Bortles
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Blake Bortles /

The Jacksonville Jaguars upset the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, with a bevy of players rising up in the moment.

The Jacksonville Jaguars pulled off what no one thought they could in the divisional round of the playoffs, by shocking the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the second time this season. The Jaguars struck first, and never relinquished the lead, going up by as many as 21 points on two separate occasions.

In a 45-42 final, the winner wasn’t the only surprise. The game was widely considered as going to be a low-scoring, defensive battle. But after scoring just 10 points in the wild card round against Buffalo, Jacksonville’s offense had something to prove, and made a resounding statement in the Steel City.

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It’s without the doubt the team’s biggest win in many years, and top three all-time in franchise history. The victory puts the Jaguars just one win away from the Super Bowl, with a date with the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship on Sunday.

Behind every monumental win, are players who stepped up for their team when it mattered most. Let’s take a look at the top three performers for the Jaguars in the playoff upset:

1. Blake Bortles

There is a significant case for another offensive star that I will mention next to be in this spot. But after being thrown into fire after fire, and left buried by media and experts alike, Blake Bortles came in clutch for his team on Sunday. Bortles was poised and confident behind center, and constantly made throws on third down and in crucial moments to keep drives alive and put points on the board.

Bortles went 14/26, for 214 yards and a touchdown. It’s not a stat line that jumps off the page necessarily, but the quarterback did everything he had to do to get the win.

Just a week after getting annihilated for his performance against the Bills, Blake Bortles showed that he can lead his team to playoff wins with his arm. With all the trash thrown his direction, there is only four QB’s remaining in the hunt for a championship, and Bortles is one of them.

2. Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette is probably petitioning to play every game at Heinz Field as we speak. Fournette has become a Steeler killer, and will occur in Pittsburgh nightmares for years to come. Fournette battered Steelers defenders on every run, regardless of whether it was a three yard gain or a ten yard gain.

Fournette finished with over 100 yards on the ground, and punched in three touchdowns. Even after suffering an ankle injury in the second quarter, the rookie running back returned in the second half and continued to churn out yards.

In the two games against Pittsburgh this season, Leonard Fournette combined for 290 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Can’t ask for better production than that versus a bitter rival.

3. Telvin Smith

The emotional leader of the defense, Telvin Smith led by example on Sunday. Smith, as is usually the case, was all over the field making plays in Pittsburgh.

The linebacker had 16 total tackles, including 14 that were solo. But the impact wasn’t just limited to making tackles. Smith had a passed defensed, and raced in to scoop up the fumble caused by Yannick Ngakoue and take it 50 yards to the house for a second quarter touchdown.

Telvin Smith is the vocal backbone of the Jaguars defense. But the biggest contribution is the elite play Smith brings to the field week in and week out for his team.