PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars’ 20-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday
1. All.The. Way. After missing on multiple opportunities, the Jaguars took momentum and a two-score lead with their biggest play of the game. It came in the third quarter. The Jaguars first missed an opportunity on their first series of the second half when running back Tank Bigsby was ruled to have lost a fumble at the Steelers 36. That was their third giveaway of the game, with all three in Pittsburgh territory and two in the red zone The Jaguars took their first two-score of the game two series later when Lawrence found running back Travis Etienne Jr. deep down the right sideline for a 56-yard touchdown. Etienne's two-point run on the ensuing play gave the Jaguars a 17-3 lead with 5:05 remaining in the third quarter. Head Coach Doug Pederson afterward called the touchdown "a great read by Trevor," adding: "It was just a great play by both guys, and it was something we needed to get something positive on offense." Lawrence and Etienne each said it was the longest pass play ever for the duo, who also played together at Clemson University. "That has to be the longest we've hit, for sure," Lawrence said.
2. Deeeeweeey. Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard isn't a full-time starter. He just plays well given the opportunity. The fifth-year veteran did so again Sunday, playing for injured safety Andre Cisco. Wingard made several key tackles early in the game, including one near the goal line that helped the Jaguars hold Pittsburgh to a field goal late in the first half. Wingard then turned in one of the biggest plays of the game, intercepting Steelers quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's deep pass at the Jaguars 41 to maintain a 17-10 lead. The Jaguars drove for the game-clinching field goal on the ensuing possession, with kicker Brandon McManus converting a 37-yard field goal for a 20-10 lead with 4:35 remaining. "I'll still say it to this day: I'm a dog," Wingard said. "I'm going to go out there and I'm going to ball out. So, it felt good to get out there. It really did."
3. Opportunities – but no points. The Jaguars inched to a lead early in the first quarter then twice missed opportunities to extend the lead late. The Jaguars led 6-0 late in the first quarter then Lawrence found wide receiver Christian Kirk open deep for a 29-yard gain to the Steelers 45. A roughing-the-passer penalty on safety Keanu Neal gave the Jaguars a first down at the Steelers 30, but tight end Evan Engram lost a fumble that linebacker Cole Holcomb recovered at the Steelers 29 to end the threat with :23 remaining in the first quarter. The Jaguars drove to the Steelers 6 on the ensuing possession, but Steelers safety Damontae Kazee intercepted a pass from Lawrence to wide receiver Calvin Ridley five yards deep in the end zone with 10:15 remaining in the second quarter. The Steelers immediately drove 93 yards, with kicker Chris Boswell's 22-yard field goal with 3:59 remaining in the second quarter trimming the Jaguars' lead to 6-3. The Jaguars held the Steelers to 100 yards in the first half. "I thought it was just another solid game defensively keeping the offense in the football game," Pederson said.
4. Saaaack, a field goal – and an oh no. The Jaguars controlled momentum early, not allowing a first down in the first quarter and maintaining a slight field-position edge through the early series. Outside linebacker Travon Walker set the early tone with a first-series sack on Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Jaguars then took a 3-0 lead when McManus converted a 50-yard field goal to end their first series. They then missed a chance to take firm control early when nickel corner Tre Herndon dropped a would-be Pick Six touchdown on third down to end the Steelers' second possession of the game. They pushed the lead to 6-0 with a 51-yard field goal by McManus on the ensuing series.
5. Maintaining the lead. The Jaguars maintained their lead throughout a frustrating first half in which they drove inside Steelers territory five times and scored three field goals. They pushed the lead to 9-3 with their fifth such drive, with McManus converting a 38-yard field goal with 1:04 remaining in the second quarter. Boswell then converted a 55-yard field goal on the half's final play. That was negated by an offsides penalty on the Steelers, with Boswell missing from 61 yards to keep the Jaguars' lead at six – 9-3 – at halftime. McManus converted all four of his field goals Sunday – from 50, 51, 38 and 37 yards. "Weather was most of it," Pederson said when asked about opting for field goals in situations in which at times he has been aggressive as the Jaguars' head coach. "And we felt like we were well inside Brandon's kick line at the time, so you know to get the early lead with some points weather like this. There were some guys slipping and different things and it's just hard to overcome."