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Sexton-Oehser quick thoughts: Steelers 20, Jaguars 16


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday

Oehser …

1.The Jaguars' defense deserved better than a 20-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. That was particularly true of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who merited his own "Quick Thought" (see No. 3 below). But this first thought is about a Jaguars defense that played perhaps its best game of the season for 55 minutes – and clearly played well enough to win. The Jaguars' defense shut out the Steelers for more than 44 minutes, sacking Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice and holding him to a 0.0 passer rating for nearly the entire first half. The Jaguars for the game limited the Steelers to 26 yards on 11 carries, with running back James Conner rushing for 25 yards on nine carries. The defense also forced three turnovers – two interceptions by Ramsey and one by strong safety Barry Church. Still, the Jaguars' offense converted two first-half interceptions in Steelers territory into just three points. Such wasted opportunities often lose games in the NFL. On Sunday, it lost the Jaguars a game this defense absolutely deserved to win.

2.The Jaguars on Sunday lost for the most frustrating of reasons: the offense was simply too ineffective, particularly the passing offense and particularly in the second half. The reasons were many-fold: a beat-up line, an ineffective day from quarterback Blake Bortles, a running game that was dominant in the first half but absent in the second half. The Jaguars, after rushing for 141 yards and producing 169 yards of offense in the first half, finished with just 179 yards rushing and 243 total yards. Bortles completed 10 of 18 passes for 108 yards and was sacked six times behind a line that finished the game with just two Week 1 starters – right tackle Jermey Parnell and left guard Andrew Norwell. The offense moved 80 yards for a third-quarter touchdown, but five other second-half drives produced minus-3, six, minus-14 and minus 1 yards. The offense's day was defined by a third-and-5 from the Jaguars 30 with 1:54 remaining. Rather than pass, the Jaguars ran Fournette into the middle for a one-yard gain. A team that can't throw there for whatever reason puts itself in a very difficult situation. That situation on Sunday led to a sixth consecutive loss.

3.Sunday's loss spoiled an epic day for Ramsey, who turned in one of the most remarkable cornerback performances in franchise history. Ramsey, covering wide receiver Antonio Brown one-on-one much of the game, had an early pass breakup covering Brown and had two highlight interceptions – one in the first half and one in the second. "I told 20, what he did today, that's the standard for him and the standard for us as a defense," cornerback A.J. Bouye said. "He solidified a lot of things." Ramsey on the first interception cut in front of Brown and leaped for the pass, cradling the ball just off the ground as he landed for an interception that was upheld after review. The interception at the Steelers 47 led to a first-half field goal. Ramsey then leaped over Brown in the end zone and took a pass away from the All-Pro receiver for a second interception that led to the Jaguars' 80-yard third-quarter touchdown. This came on a day that began with a national report that the Jaguars could consider trading Ramsey in the offseason – a report the team quickly refuted. It also came a week after Rasmey allowed multiple big plays, including a touchdown, in a loss to Indianapolis. Credit to Ramsey for responding in a big way on a day that should have had a better result.

Sexton ...

1. The Jaguars blew this one in the first half, not the second. If any of those second quarter drives ended in the end zone and not field goals it's a completely different game. As it was the defense gave them the football twice in Steelers territory and they managed just a single field goal. I get the play calling and the inability to get a first down with 2:28 left to play but it wouldn't have mattered if the Jaguars could have done anything with the ball.

2. The cornerstone players showed up today. Jalen Ramsey had two interceptions which set up 10 points, Leonard Fournette had 141 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, Yannick Ngakoue had a fourth quarter sack which forced the Steelers to punt. Losing stinks but to have a couple of young guys step up and make game changing plays is reason for optimism about the long -term future since the short term is a season that will end shy of the new year. Myles Jack had an interception taken away, A.J. Bouye dropped one on a late pass to the sideline. Notable is that most of these guys are on the defensive side of the football…

3. The quarterback made a few plays but overall he was unable to be a difference maker. There isn't much more to say. He's a tough guy who led the Jaguars down the field on a critical third quarter drive to go up 16-0, but in the end the coaching staff told you what they thought of their ability to win with his arm.

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