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PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Jaguars showed plenty of grit Sunday.
In one of the NFL’s toughest venues against one of the AFC’s best teams, that grit – and a stunningly historic, opportunistic defense – turned out to be enough.
Linebacker Telvin Smith and safety Barry Church scored Pick Six Touchdowns on back-to-back third-quarter possessions, and the Jaguars intercepted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in a 30-9 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.
The Jaguars improved to 3-2 with the victory and maintained at least a share of first place in the AFC South. The Steelers slipped to 3-2.
The Jaguars stayed in the game early the same way they took control in the second half -– turning takeaways into points. Takeaways led directly to the first three Jacksonville touchdowns Sunday.
First, second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey intercepted Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to set up a momentum-turning first-quarter touchdown. Ramsey’s first-quarter interception gave Jacksonville possession at the Steelers 47.
Rookie running back Leonard Fournette’s two-yard touchdown ended the ensuing possession gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead.
The Steelers edged ahead with two more field goals before linebacker Telvin Smith’s 28-yard interception return gave the Jaguars a 13-9 lead with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter. Smith stepped in front of a pass intended for wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Church returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown and a 20-9 lead on the ensuing Steelers possession. Ramsey, who had at least four passes defensed Sunday, knocked the pass from Brown.
Church alertly caught the deflection and weaved through the Steelers for the touchdown with 3:59 remaining in the third quarter. That marked the first time in franchise history the Jaguars have registered two interception returns for a touchdown in the same game.
Images of the Jaguars Week 5 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Safety Tashaun Gipson intercepted Roethlisberger twice in the fourth quarter to give the Jaguars five interceptions in the game. That marked a career-high interceptions for Roethlisberger.
The Jaguars’ defense came up big at critical times through much of the first three quarters, allowing several long drives but holding the Steelers to three field goals on three trips inside the red zone.
Fournette’s touchdown was the fifth time in as many career games he has scored a touchdown. Fournette joined former Jaguars running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew as the only players in franchise history with touchdowns in five consecutive games.
The Jaguars, after registering 13 takeaways last season, have 15 through five games this season. They have scored four touchdowns on takeaways and the 12 takeaways have led to 67 points.
Fournette’s 90-yard touchdown with 1:47 remaining gave the Jaguars the final margin of victory. Fournette finished with a career-high 181 yards on 28 carries.
Step by step:
*The Steelers took a 3-0 lead when kicker Chris Boswell converted a 29-yard field goal to end their first drive. That came three plays after a 49-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Brown on Pittsburgh’s first offensive play. The Jaguars went three-and-out on their first possession, then punted on their second possession after a 31-yard pass from Bortles to Marqise Lee moved them to the Pittsburgh 41. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey intercepted Roethlisberger on the ensuing drive to give the Jaguars possession at the Steelers 47 with 1:24 remaining in the quarter; a blitz by middle linebacker Paul Posluszny set up the interception.
*The Jaguars took a 7-3 lead on the possession after Ramsey’s interception, Fournette scoring on a two-yard dive with 12:12 remaining in the second quarter; Fournette rushed for 27 yards on the 47-yard drive. Boswell’s 34-yard field goal with :03 remaining in the second quarter made it 7-6 at halftime.
*Boswell’s 20-yard field goal on the Steelers’ first possession of the second half gave Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead. The Steelers had a 257-144 total-yardage advantage at that point, but the Jaguars had held the Steelers to three field goals on three red-zone opportunities. Smith’s 28-yard interception return and Church’s 52-yarder on the ensuing series turned the two-point deficit into an 11-point lead entering the fourth quarter. …
*Jaguars kicker Jason Myers’ 47-yard field goal with 6:43 remaining in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 23-9.
Notable: The Jaguars registered no sacks in the (first half) and two in the second Sunday. They now have 20 for the season, the most in franchise history through five games. End Calais Campbell had one Sunday and has six career sacks through five games. … Ramsey’s first-quarter interception was his second of the season and the fourth of his career. He has three interceptions in his last six games. … Lee played for the Jaguars Sunday after being listed as questionable on the week’s final injury report Friday. … Tyler Shatley started at center after starting center Brandon Linder (illness) was ruled out Saturday. …
*Injury report: *Cornerback Aaron Colvin left briefly with a lacerated lip in the third quarter and returned. … The Jaguars’ seven inactives Sunday: running back T.J. Yeldon, wide receiver Jaelen Strong (hamstring), Linder, offensive lineman Josh Walker, offensive lineman William Poehls, linebacker Lerentee McCray (knee) and cornerback Jalen Myrick. …
What’s next: The Jaguars are scheduled to play host to the Los Angeles Rams at EverBank Field Sunday at 4:05 p.m.