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Jaguars dominate Steelers


They held the Steelers' running game to 26 yards, the lowest in Bill Cowher's 15 years as coach. The Jaguars beat up Ben Roethlisberger, intercepted him twice and forced him into the worst game of his professional football career.

"The new bullies," was the tag middle linebacker Mike Peterson selected for the Jaguars.

Who could argue with Peterson after the thrashing the Jaguars gave the Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night? In losing 9-0 to the Jaguars at Alltel Stadium, the Steelers only crossed midfield once and their deepest penetration of the game was the Jacksonville 46-yard line.

"We've been a good defense. We're trying to get in that great category," Peterson said.

Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith was presented the game ball by head coach Jack Del Rio. "He was magnificent," Del Rio said of Smith.

Whatever the Steelers attempted, the Jaguars were there to stop it, beginning with holding running back Willie Parker to 20 yards in 11 carries. Parker's long run was eight yards.

"We know it starts there. You know you have to start with the run game when you play the Pittsburgh Steelers," Del Rio said. "Good football player and good design; they go hand in hand."

Roethlisberger was making his season debut and played the whole game just 15 days after undergoing appendectomy surgery. He played only 43 snaps in the preseason. He was, clearly, not himself.

"He's a tough guy to tackle. He's very good. We had to get pressure on him and not let him feel comfortable and I thought we were able to do that," Del Rio said of a defensive performance that sent Roethlisberger back to Pittsburgh with a 38.7 passer rating.

Offensively, the Jaguars failed to score a touchdown but quarterback Byron Leftwich managed the game and, aside from one interception, was accurate with his passes. Fred Taylor ran for 92 yards and helped take control of the game in the second half when it appeared the Steelers began to run out of gas.

"We saw those guys getting tired a little but I don't think it had anything to do with the outcome of this football game," Leftwich said.

Special teams played a big part in the win. The Steelers' average drive-start position was their 18-yard line. The Jaguars began their drives, on average, at their 35.

It was a field-position game for two-and-a-half quarters, until Josh Scobee booted a 31-yard field goal with 5:28 to play in the third quarter. His kick capped a 60-yard drive that gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead. Scobee also kicked field goals of 32 and 42 yards in the fourth quarter.

"I thought Byron … really was sharp. He got rid of the ball on time. I think you saw him mature and do some things tonight and that has to give everybody here confidence," Del Rio said.

Leftwich was good on third down, especially in critical conversion situations in the second half. Reggie Williams had a career-high eight catches and Matt Jones caught six passes in a possession passing game that utilized the Jaguars' receivers height and size advantage.

"It gets exposure for our team but it changes nothing for us. I was taking a knee and I was thinking we got Indy next week," said Leftwich, who was 26 of 39 for 260 yards, an interception and a 74.7 passer rating.

Offense, however, was not the star of this game. It was the lowest-scoring game in Monday Night Football history.

"The part I'm most proud of is we pitched a shutout," Del Rio said. It was the first shutout of a defending Super Bowl champion since it happened to the Raiders in 1981.

"They played a heck of a football game. We couldn't make any plays on offense and they made enough on defense to win the game," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said.

"It's nice to have nice things said about you but it can turn quickly. I'm not going to break my arm patting myself on the back," Del Rio said.

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