JACKSONVILLE – In a weekly feature for the 2023 season, NFL Media and Jaguars Media Analyst Bucky Brooks breaks down the Jaguars' performance in a 20-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday
- The Jaguars' fifth consecutive victory solidified their transformation from an ultra-talented, opportunistic squad to a rugged, blue-collar team that can "bully the bullies" at home or on the road. The Jaguars' physicality, toughness and grittiness stand out on each side of the ball, and opponents must respect their tenacity between the lines. Moreover, opponents must adapt to playing against a team that embraces a grind-it-out game at home or on the road.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- The Jaguars continue to notch victories utilizing a formula that consists of physicality, toughness, turnovers and big plays. Head Coach Doug Pederson's squad turns every game into a slugfest, with the offense and defense throwing haymakers at every turn. Against the Steelers, the defense set the tone with a series of "three-and-outs" and turnovers that enabled the Jaguars to jump out to an early lead. Although the offense squandered several scoring opportunities with turnovers and miscues that kept the game close, the defense's dominant and disruptive efforts helped the Jaguars win a competitive game in a hostile environment.
- The third-year pro put on an impressive throwing exhibition against a top-notch defense that features disruptive pass rushers and ball-hawking defensive backs. Lawrence completed 24 of 32 passes for 292 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Though he only connected with five different receivers, the balanced distribution between the Jaguars' top receivers (tight end Evan Engram, 10 receptions, 88 yards; wide receiver Calvin Ridley, 6-83; wide receiver Christian Kirk, 4-46) kept the Steelers from extensively utilizing double coverage tactics to neutralize any threat. Moreover, Lawrence's willingness to target any of the team's top targets in a key situation makes it harder to game plan against a Jaguars offense loaded with firepower. While Lawrence needs to eliminate the red zone errors that repeatedly cost the Jaguars points, the young passer is evolving into a consistent playmaker with top-five quarterback potential.
- Andrew Wingard filled in admirably for Andre Cisco. The veteran safety totaled six tackles, two passes defensed and an interception while patrolling the deep middle as a hybrid centerfielder/enforcer between the hashes. Wingard's outstanding instincts, anticipation and ball skills shut down the middle of the field for Steelers quarterbacks Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, and forced the erratic passers to attempt low-percentage throws outside the numbers.
- The Jaguars' offense did not light up the scoreboard, but played well enough to control the action against one of the NFL's top defenses. The offensive line mashed and mauled the Steelers at the point of attack, enabling running back Travis Etienne Jr. to amass 79 rushing yards on 24 carries. Although the numbers are not impressive at first glance, the commitment to the running game helped Lawrence throw comfortably from the pocket in manageable situations. With the Jaguars controlling the ball for over 34 minutes due to the offense's efficiency and effectiveness, the game's outcome was never in doubt in a gritty road win.
- The Jaguars' defense is starting to earn some much-deserved recognition as one of the top units in the league. The impressive performance against the Steelers will keep the momentum going as observers appreciate the physicality, toughness and tenacity that Outside Linebacker Josh Allen and Co. display weekly. Although the Steelers' pedestrian offense lacks the chemistry and continuity to produce explosive plays, the Jaguars suffocated the running game and blanketed the big play weapon (wide receiver George Pickens) on the perimeter. With the defense tallying three sacks and forcing a couple of turnovers, coordinator Mike Caldwell's destructive unit deserves a standing ovation for its efforts.
The energy and intensity was turned up for this historical matchup in Pittsburgh 🔥 Swipe through our frames of the game from the locker room to the field ➡️