Leonard Fournette

Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

Jaguars 45, Steelers 42: Jacksonville all that stands between Patriots and Super Bowl

John Tomase
January 14, 2018 - 4:27 pm

The Steelers have been talking about facing the Patriots in the AFC title game since training camp. They'll have until next fall to wonder how they overlooked the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Needing only to protect their home field to ensure a rematch in Foxboro next weekend, the Steelers instead fell into a 21-0 hole that not even the magic of Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger could overcome in a shocking 45-42 defeat that sends the upstart Jaguars to the AFC title game against the defending Super Bowl champs.

The Steelers couldn't stop a Jacksonville offense that one week ago managed only 10 points in a wild card victory over the Bills. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette rushed for three touchdowns and helped the Jags convert 8-of-14 third downs.

Even maligned quarterback Blake Bortles got in on the fun, completing 14 of 26 passes for 214 yards and Jacksonville's final touchdown, to fullback Tommy Bohannon.

The Jags and their impressive defense booked passage to Foxboro on Sunday for a chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. They'll be facing a Patriots team that probably expected to see the Steelers again, but Jacksonville had other ideas.

The Jaguars hit the field intent on proving they shouldn't have been overlooked. They drove 66 yards on the game's opening drive and ignored a potential field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 2. Fournette rewarded coach Doug Marrone's gamble by vaulting into the end zone.

Things only got worse for the Steelers from there. One play after a Roethlisberger interception, Fournette went 18 yards for another score. Jacksonville followed with an 11-play scoring drive that made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter. Heinz Field hadn't been this shocked since Bane blew it up in the Dark Knight Rises.

Roethlisberger rallied the Steelers with a picture-perfect 23-yard touchdown to Brown, but Big Ben fumbled on Pittsburgh's next possession, and Jacksonville's Telvin Smith scooped it up and raced 50 yards for another shocking touchdown.

Smith was flagged for taunting during the return, which gave the Steelers excellent field position. Roethlisberger made the visitors pay with a gutsy 36-yard touchdown to Martavis Bryant on fourth-and-11 with 25 seconds left.

The Steelers pulled within a touchdown midway through the third quarter and then blocked a punt to set themselves up with a short field, but the Jags held firm on fourth down before embarking on a five-play, 61-yard scoring drive that ended with Fournette's third TD.

Brown reeled in a 43-yard TD on fourth down with 9:05 left, but the Jags responded once again, Bortles finding running back T.J. Yeldon for 40 yards on third and 5, setting up Bohannon's clinching score.

The Steelers didn't quit, Roethlisberger craftily lateraling to Le'Veon Bell for a touchdown run with just over two minutes left. The Steelers attempted a questionable onside kick that ended in a penalty, setting up Josh Lambo's clinching 45-yard field goal.

The Steelers scored with one second left to account for the final score.