JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars got the preseason off to the start they wanted.
Second-year quarterback Blake Bortles passed for 118 yards in three series with a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and the Jaguars reserves rallied from a late deficit to finish a 23-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Friday night.
A crowd of 61,324 attended the 2015 preseason opener at EverBank Field.
Bortles scored the four-yard touchdown on a fourth-down scramble while diving, reaching ball out and hitting the pylon with the ball on his final play of the night. He completed 11 of 15 passes, including two passes to second-year wide receiver Allen Robinson for 25 yards, and a 27-yard pass to Arrelious Benn in the second quarter.
"We're really looking at the management of the offense, and getting his reads right and the checks, and giving us the proper calls," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said at halftime. "I thought (Bortles) did a real nice job for the first game."
Wide receiver Allen Hurns, tight end Clay Harbor and running back Bernard Pierce each had drops of Bortles passes inside the 20-yard line.
Tight end Julius Thomas lef the game after a two-yard reception on the second Jaguars play from scrimmage and was taken to the locker room to evaluate a left hand injury. He did not return.
Chad Henne replaced Bortles, completing 9 of 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Player of the Game
Blake Bortles. Bortles looked poised and confident while overcoming one overthrow and three drops to throw for 118 yards. He marched the Jaguars on two scoring drives and capped off the night with a four-yard scrambling touchdown run on a fourth-down play. "I think it (stat line) was a tribute to the guys up front and the guys running routes," Bortles said on the sideline during the second half. "We had a ton of guys get catches, and guys worked their tails off to get open."
After starting with a three-and-out, the offense had scoring drives of 13 plays for 45 yards and 12 plays for 83 yards in the next two drives, respectively. At halftime, the Jaguars outgained the Steelers 206-160.
The Jaguars defense gave up a 44-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant on the opening drive of the game before Roethlisberger left for the night. The Jaguars then forced four punts on the final four drives of the first half. Defensive end Cap Capi collected the Jaguars' only two sacks of the game.
Josh Scobee hit a 37-yard field goal and two extra points with four touchbacks in four kickoffs in the first half. Rookie wide receiver Rashad Greene returned a punt 37 yards late in the second quarter, shortening the field for a 52-yard touchdown drive.
-Offensive line. The starters on the line consistently pushed the Steelers defensive line off the line of scrimmage early, creating holes for the running game. "I thought they really set the tone," Bradley said. "We extended their playing time a little bit, and they came out and gave those guys a chance to run the ball." Steelers OLB James Harrison sacked Bortles in the first quarter.
-Toby Gerhart. The veteran running back had four carries for 13 yards, pushing piles forward in a couple of instances. He also had two receptions for 30 yards, including a 19-yard catch and run on a screen pass.
-Nick Marshall. The rookie cornerback returned a third-quarter kickoff 35 yards.