JACKSONVILLE – There were flashes and the flashes were good.
Some came from Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the first-team offense, with more coming from a defense that continued a strong preseason.
Lawrence – who played the entire first half – completed 14 of 21 passes for 133 yards and drove the offense into scoring position consistently, and the Jaguars' starting defense was strong throughout much of the first half. Those were major storylines from a 16-15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Preseason Week 2 game in front of 58,323 at TIAA Bank Field Saturday night.
"There were definitely a lot of good things to watch and learn from," Lawrence said. "Obviously we want to score more touchdowns – a similar theme to last week. We have to improve there.
"There were more good things than bad. I felt good about the things we did."
Jaguars kicker Ryan Santoso's 57-yard field attempt on the game's final play missed wide right.
"There were a lot of good, positive takeaways tonight from the starters," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "We feel good there."
Pederson noted the need to avoid turnovers, for the reserves to tackle better in the second half and for the first-team offense to finish drives near the end zone – areas that hurt the Jaguars again Saturday.
"But I think if you look at where we are as starters, I think we're right on track with where we need to be and where we want to be," Pederson said. "That gives us a lot of hope as we head into the regular season."
The Jaguars, after trailing by a point at halftime, rallied for a 15-7 lead with a third-quarter safety and a four-yard fourth-quarter scramble by quarterback C.J. Beathard. The Steelers rallied back, with quarterback Mason Rudolph's touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyler Snead giving the Steelers a 16-15 lead with 1:56 remaining.
Rookie quarterback E.J. Perry drove the Jaguars 39 yards to step up Santoso's final kick.
Lawrence and the Jaguars' starting offense played until halftime. Much of the starting defense played a series into the second half. The Jaguars led 6-0 on two extended field-goal drives until a Steelers touchdown with :23 remaining in the half.
The strong early performance by the starting defense marked the second such game for the Jaguars. The first-team defense shut out Cleveland on three series last week, and the late Steelers first-half touchdown – an 11-yard pass from quarterback Kenny Pickett to running back Benny Snell – snapped a streak of seven consecutive possessions for the Jaguars first-team defense not allowing a touchdown.
The first half, which marked the most extensive playing time of the preseason for the Jaguars' starters, was also marked by missed opportunities.
The Jaguars drove inside the Steelers 40 on all four of their first-half drives, settling for field-goal attempts on the first three drives and turning possession over on downs on their fourth drive.
Jaguars defensive lineman Arden Key, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in March, continued a strong preseason. He registered a sack and drew a hold with another strong pass rush. He has three sacks in three preseason games.
Beathard replaced Lawrence to start the third quarter and completed six of 10 passes for 52 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Perry completed six of 11 passes for 92 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Arizona in March, caught five passes for 54 yards in the first half in his Jaguars debut. Jaguars wide receivers had 118 yards receiving in the half, with veteran Marvin Jones Jr. catching three passes for 40 yards.
Step by step:
- Santoso's 53-yard field goal on the Jaguars' second possession gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead with 2:16 remaining in the first quarter. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell missed off the left upright from 53 yards to end the game's first possession, with Santoso missing right from 51 yards on the Jaguars' first drive.
- Santoso's 25-yard field goal with 6:06 remaining in the second quarter capped a 15-play, 83-yard drive that was among Lawrence's more impressive drives of the preseason; he completed five of seven passes for 61 yards on the drive, including a 22-yard pass to Kirk on 3rd-and-9 from the Steelers 34. The Jaguars controlled momentum much of the first half, holding the Steelers scoreless until Snell's touchdown.
- The Jaguars retook the lead when veteran defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot hurried Rudolph into intentional grounding from the end zone, a penalty that resulted in a safety and an 8-7 Jaguars lead with 9:15 remaining in the third quarter.
- Beathard's four-yard scramble came with 12:17 remaining capped a seven-play, 52-yard drive and pushed the Jaguars' lead to 15-7. Steelers kicker Nick Sciba's 38-yard field goal cut the Jaguars' lead to 15-10 with 6:20 remaining.
Notable: The full list of Jaguars players ruled out for Saturday's game:
- Cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Darious Williams
- Running back James Robinson
- Rookie inside linebacker Devin Lloyd
- Offensive linemen Badara Traore and Will Richardson Jr.
View real-time game photos of the Jacksonville Jaguars Preseason Week 2 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.