PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's post-game press conference following the Jaguars’ 20-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday
- A lot of pride. Pederson opened his post-game media availability discussing his pride in the team. With reason. The Jaguars have recovered from back-to-back home losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans to win five consecutive games in five different stadiums: The Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium in London, the Buffalo Bills at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans on a Thursday and the Steelers in Pittsburgh Sunday. Three of those victories were by 10 or more points – Atlanta, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh – and the only time the Jaguars trailed during that span was when the Colts had a 3-0 lead before the Jaguars took the lead on their first possession in that game. Pederson said he was feeling "great" after Sunday's game, adding: "It's something that I told the team, the first half of the season, these first eight games, I think with all the travel, the Thursday game, in and out of hotels – things like that – the guys have handled it extremely well. Proud of the guys for that. Really proud to be 6-2 at the bye."
- Strong again. The Jaguars' defense through eight games has far exceeded expectations. More than that, it has emerged as a team strength – and a major reason the Jaguars (6-2) have won five consecutive games and lead the AFC South by two and a half games. The defense on Sunday held the Steelers without a first down in the first quarter and to 100 yards total offense in the first half. The Steelers managed just one offensive touchdown, enabling the Jaguars to earn their fourth double-digit victory of the season despite committing three offensive turnovers and allowing three sacks. "I thought defensively, it was just another really solid game," Pederson said. "It kept the offense in the football game. It's just a credit to the guys. It's a mindset where we're just going to continue to play hard and something positive is eventually going to happen."
- Next men up. Making the Jaguars' defensive effort Sunday particularly notable: The absence of starting safety Andre Cisco and cornerback Tyson Campbell, two third-year veterans who are among the NFL's best young players at their positions. Second-year veteran Montaric Brown started a second consecutive game for Campbell, with fifth-year veteran Andrew Wingard starting for Cisco. The Jaguars intercepted two passes off backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in the fourth quarter, with Wingard's stopping a potential tying drive and leading to kicker Brandon McManus' game-clinching 37-yard field goal with 4:35 remaining. Rookie safety Antonio Johnson intercepted a Hail Mary pass on the game's final play. "We knew going in how opportunistic Pittsburgh's defense is," Pederson said. "They capitalized. They created some takeaways and then our defense in the second half created a couple takeaways. For Montaric to come in and play like he has done in the last couple of weeks, and Andrew Wingard to come in and play that safety spot, and Antonio Johnson getting in there … The guys just hang together and I'm really proud of the way they performed today."
- Great read, great play. The Jaguars led 9-3 with the game very much in doubt in the third quarter. Then came the game's key play – and the Jaguars' most explosive offensive play: A 56-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Lawrence to running back Travis Etienne Jr., who got free down the right sideline for a touchdown that gave the Jaguars a 15-3 lead. Etienne then scored the two-point conversion on a pitch to the right side. "It was a great read by Trevor," Pederson said. "That was just his route. It's just an outside release go route. Trevor did a great job. He saw the corner collapse on the little stick route and just found Travis behind the defense. It was just a great play by both guys, and it was something we needed. We needed to kind of get something positive on offense."
- More on the defense: "Credit [Defensive coordinator] Mike Caldwell: Great, great game plans. The defensive coaches are preparing their players. There's a mindset over there now. There's a confidence over there. When you keep things really simple, and you have the same calls and the guys understand the defense and the way they work during the week, everything just translates to what you see on game day and it's a credit to them."