JACKSONVILLE – The early fight was real and admirable.
But sometimes, the opponent is better – and that was the case for the Jaguars against one of the NFL's elite teams Sunday.
Jaguars rookie quarterback Jake Luton threw four interceptions against one of the NFL's best defenses – and what at times was a scrappy Jaguars defensive effort wasn't enough in a 27-3 loss to the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers at TIAA Bank Field Sunday afternoon.
"This one hurts, just like all the losses have," Luton said. "We want to win every week and we show up every day with that mindset and that's not going to change."
The Steelers improved to 10-0. The Jaguars (1-9) lost a ninth consecutive game after a Week 1 home victory over Indianapolis.
"It was a hard-fought game," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "Like I keep saying every week—it's not from a lack of effort and I wish I could do a better job for these guys. And that's what I told them after the game. …
"I talked to the players after the game and obviously, we're all disappointed. And I told the players—I mean, this team has done everything they can."
Luton, making his third NFL start, completed 16 of 37 passes for 151 yards. A Steelers defense that entered Sunday leading the NFL in sacks and turnovers sacked Luton twice – and intercepted him twice during the decisive second quarter and twice more in the second half.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, having perhaps the best season of a Hall-of-Fame career, completed 32 of 46 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars intercepted Roethlisberger once – with rookie safety Daniel Thomas intercepting him on the final play of the first half. The Jaguars did not have a sack.
Roethlisberger's 31-yard touchdown pass to rookie Chase Claypool down one sideline gave the Steelers their first lead midway through the second quarter, and his 23-yard pass to wide receiver Diontae Johnson down the other sideline came one play before a one-yard run by Bennie Snell Jr. pushed the Steelers' lead to 17-3.
Snell's touchdown came with :44 remaining in the half. Neither team scored again until kicker Chris Boswell's 47-yard field goal gave the Steelers a comfortable three-score lead – 20-3 – with 10:21 remaining.
"We want to go out and have success," Luton said. "I think we're close and we've got a talented group. We just have to be able to put it together. We have to put drives together and we have to help our defense out and put the ball in the endzone when we have the chance."
Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson rushed 17 times for 73 yards.
"We want to win," Robinson said. "Everyone wants to win. From the first game, and then after that, it kind of just went on downhill. Everyone wants to win in that locker room so it's kind of frustrating to just lose games like this."
The Steelers outgained Jacksonville, 373-206.
"Things aren't going our way, but people understand that this is their livelihood that's on the line and the guys' next-to-them livelihood," Jaguars middle linebacker Joe Schobert said. "They're playing their hearts out for each other."
Step by step:
*Chase McLaughlin gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead with a 41-yard field goal with 10:57 remaining in the first quarter, a play that capped a 57-yard drive on the game's first possession; Robinson rushed four times for 20 yards and caught a 15-yard pass on the drive. The Steelers recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Boswell missed from 45 yards to end the threat. Both quarterbacks narrowly averted interceptions on their team's final drive of the quarter, with Jaguars safety Jarrod Wilson nearly intercepting Roethlisberger and Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree nearly intercepting Luton.
*Boswell's 44-yard field goal with 10:45 remaining in the second quarter tied it 3-3; the Jaguars' secondary to that point had helped negate a strong Steelers passing game, with the unit defending three passes by Roethlisberger early. The Steelers then took their first lead of the game – 10-3 – when Claypool beat Jaguars rookie cornerback Chris Claybrooks down the sideline for a 31-yard touchdown with 7:00 remaining in the half. Luton's first interception came later in the quarter, with Snell's run on the ensuing drive pushing the Steelers lead to 17-3 with :44 remaining in the half.
*Neither team score in the third quarter, with Boswell's 47-yard field goal giving Pittsburgh a 20-3 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Steelers continued to pull away later, with Roethlisberger passing 20 yards to tight end Eric Ebron for a 27-3 lead with 6:40 remaining in the game.
Notable: The Jaguars were without their top two corners Sunday. Sidney Jones IV was ruled out shortly before the game because of an Achilles injury with CJ Henderson having been placed on injured reserve this past week with a groin injury. Claybrooks and third-year veteran Tre Herndon started at corner. … Jones was among seven Jaguars players deactivated Sunday. The others were wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring), tight end James O'Shaughnessy (knee), quarterback Gardner Minshew II (thumb), offensive lineman KC McDermott, tight end Tyler Davis and linebacker Quincy Williams.
*Injury report: *Thomas sustained an arm injury early in the third quarter and did not return. Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen sustained a left leg injury in the third quarter and did not return. Claybrooks sustained a groin injury in the fourth quarter. Jaguars cornerback DJ Hayden sustained a knee injury in the fourth quarter. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell sustained an arm injury and did not return.
*Up next: *The Jaguars will play host to the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field Sunday.