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What we learned: Jaguars 30, Steelers 9

Posted Oct 9, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sunday


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sunday …

1.The Jaguars are above .500 … That’s the first time that has happened in October since 2010 …

2…. and they’re in first place. That’s the first time that has happened in October since 2004.

3.The defense is for real … The Jaguars registered five more interceptions Sunday for an NFL-high 15 takeaways on the season. They registered two more sacks for an NFL-high 20 on the season. This defense has shown a lot of things this season, but most notably it has shown it can change games from all three levels. Rare is the NFL defense that can do that.

4. … and it can stop the run. The Jaguars allowed the Steelers just 70 yards rushing Sunday, and two-time Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for just 47 yards. The Jaguars entered the game ranked No. 32 in the NFL against the run and allowed the Jets 256 yards rushing the week before. 

5.Leonard Fournette can run … The Jaguars’ rookie running back rushed for a career-high 181 yards on 28 carries Sunday, including a career-long 90-yarder for a touchdown. So much for waiting for him to have a breakout run and game.

6. … and hit … We’ve known since the preseason Fournette runs hard – really, really hard. His ability to punish defenders and get extra yards on every play is becoming the signature of this offense. But Fournette took his approach to a different level Sunday. Did you see Fournette motion Steelers safety Mike Mitchell to hit him before a tackle in the fourth quarter? Did you see the contact on that play? Did you see Fournette get three extra yards after the hit? The man is … well … a man.

7. … and fly. Fournette’s diving two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter Sunday began with Fournette leaving the ground a little before the four-yard line and ended when he landed in the end zone. That’s serious air.

8.The Jaguars thrive on takeaways. We’ve known that all season, but the Jaguars showed it again Sunday. The Jaguars had five takeaways Sunday, and now have an NFL-leading 74 points off turnovers this season. They have four defensive touchdowns, including two on back-to-back possessions Sunday. The Jaguars’ takeaway total all of last season was 13. They reached that in the second half of Week 5.

9.Giveaway-takeaway matters. We’ve been learning this all season, too, but remember: the Jaguars finished last season minus-16 in takeaway/giveaway. They went 3-13. They lead the NFL at plus-10 takeaway giveaway through five games. They’re 3-2.

10.Jalen Ramsey may be as good as any cornerback in the NFL. Ramsey’s stats are eye-catching. He had an interception and four passes defenses Sunday, giving him two interceptions for the season and nine passes defensed. His 22 passes defensed over the last 10 games are the most in the NFL over that span. Beyond statistics, Ramsey more than passes the eye test. He elevated and went parallel on his second-quarter interception Sunday, a play that gave the Jaguars momentum after the Steelers had it early. His third-quarter pass deflection led to safety Barry Church’s 51-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Jaguars thrive on Ramsey’s playmaking ability, and he’s good enough to deliver.

11. … and the Jaguars’ secondary may fit the same description. All four starting defensive backs have at least one interception this season. Free safety Tashaun Gipson has three, and Ramsey and cornerback A.J. Bouye both have two. This unit believes it’s the best in the NFL. It was hard to argue Sunday.

12.Dante Fowler Jr. is showing up. The No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft has four sacks in five games this season. That matches his total from last season.

12.Telvin Smith is still fast. The fourth-year linebacker returned an interception 28 yards for a go-ahead third-quarter touchdown Sunday, a play that may be remembered as one of the season’s turning points. Smith joked afterward he wasn’t going to be caught, particularly after being prevented from a fumble-return touchdown in London a couple of weeks ago by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. “I’m tired of all the Flacco talk,” he said, laughing. “I had to let them know: the speed is still here.”

13.Aaron Colvin. A lot of attention has been paid to Ramsey and Bouye this season. Colvin has been a very good nickel corner for a while for this team, and he led the team with 10 tackles – two for a loss – Sunday.

14.Plays matter more than yards. The Jaguars were outgained, 371-313 Sunday. They lost time of possession, 31:08-28:52. So much for statistics. Winning takeaway/giveaway and turning interceptions into touchdowns has a way of transcending numbers.

15.The Jaguars are in first place. It bears repeating.

 

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