Sunday's matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars was not pretty. That's being generous. For the 12 people that watched this game from start to finish, we lounged on our couches as Jacksonville got up 6-0, then, 13-0, and then even 16-0, the entire time just waiting for trusty Blake Bortles to stink it up in the 4th quarter as he generally does.
When the Steelers stormed back in the 4th quarter behind the ancient big-bodied Ben Roethlisbeger and his normal late-game antics, no one was surprised. Not a single person. Of course Blake Bortles was going to choke under pressure. It's as good a bet as the Warriors winning the NBA Finals.
The Jags worst and consequently most important offensive play of the day came on a 3rd-and-5 with 1:54 left on the clock and still holding on for dear life to a 16-13 lead. Pittsburgh put 8 men in the box...on 3rd-and-5! How ridiculous. Any high school quarterback with a basic understanding of football could've easily executed a play-action pass and hit an open receiver for 10 yards.
Not Blake Bortles. No, coach Doug Marrone wouldn't trust Bortles to beat single coverage on a play-action pass in a pressure situation. Instead, Marrone and the Jags offense elected to run the ball straight up the middle on 3rd-and-5. Boneheaded. Of course, as usually happens when your blockers are outnumbered on an up-the-middle run play, it was stuffed.
The rest was history. Predictable history. Big Ben and the Steelers got the ball back, marched down the field and threw an interception on 2nd-and-goal. Oh wait...there was a penalty: facemask, on the defense, automatic first down. Of course they got bailed out. With 1st-and-goal on the 1 and 8 seconds left, Roethlisberger ran in it himself. Have you ever lifted up a bean bag and tossed it out of the way, realizing that the damn thing is way heavier than you thought? Yeah, that's what Big Ben looked like diving for the touchdown.
Oh, and just for good measure, to really prove his 2018 suckiness, Bortles fumbled on the final play Hail Mary. Couldn't have drawn it up better myself.
After this debacle, there's a better chance Jalen Ramsey compliments an opposing quarterback than Jacksonville makes the playoffs. At 3-7 and 4 games back from AFC North-leader Houston at 7-3, they're cooked. Oh well...at least they almost beat New England in the Great Jacksonville Choke Job of yester-year!
The Pittsburgh Steelers, on an entirely different note, are rolling. Each of the last six weeks, they've won, and in a different way each time. Last Thursday they steamrolled the Panthers in route to a 52-21 offensively dominant blowout. 10 days later, they rushed for a mere 26 yards and got down 16-0 before scraping and clawing their way to a miraculous 20-16 comeback win over the Jags.
Pittsburgh is now 7-2-1 and 2.5 games ahead of the pack in the AFC North. As of now, they're in prime position to earn a first round bye in the playoffs. However, the perpetual AFC sheriff, Bill Belichick and his noble legion of Patriots sit just half a game back at 7-3 and a friendly remaining schedule.
After this close yet absolutely unwatchable contest between Jacksonville and Pittsburgh, the two teams could not be in more differing situations playoffs-wise.