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Rapid Recap- Jaguars knock off Steelers in Divisional Playoff win

Florida Football Insiders

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff rematch between the Jaguars and the Steelers lived up to hype and then some.

And in the end, the Jaguars were clearly the better team for a second straight meeting on the road, in a 45-42 wild win.

The Jaguars established right away, that they were not intimidated, and they were willing to throw hay-makers at the home standing “Men of Steel.”

Taking the opening kickoff and driving 64 yards in eight plays, the Jags elected to go for a 4th and goal from the two and RB Leonard Fournette took to the air:

That one play ignited a tremendous first half that saw Jacksonville lead by 21 points on two different occasions. After intercepting Ben Roethlisberger for the sixth time in just five quarters dating back to the regular season match-up, Fournette took the next play in from 18 yards out and a two score lead.

The Jacksonville defense came up large, again, with CB Jalen Ramsey stopping RB LeVeon Bell on a 4th and one at Jaguars 21 yard line to end their drive. And back on offense, QB Blake Bortles led another long 75 yard drive that bled into the second quarter and then when back up RB T.J. Yeldon got the ball…

The Steelers crowd was stunned, as they should have been, down by three touchdowns.

Bortles continued to play steadily throughout the game finishing with 14-26 for 214 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 35 yards.

Back to the first half and after a Roethlisberger to WR Antonio Brown 23 yard touchdown pass cut the lead to 21-7, the Jaguars defense struck another big blow:

Jacksonville’s Telvin Smith, just like he did with a pick six in the October meeting, picked up the fumble and took it 50 yards to the house for the second 21 point lead at the half.

You wouldn’t expect the Steelers to simply roll over, certainly not with Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell looking to get back in the game.

And, they showed that fight when Roethlisberger floated this one for Bell out of the backfield in the third quarter to bring the Steelers within one score…

Roethlisberger finished with a playoff career high 469 yards and 5 TD passes.

However, the story of the day was the Jaguars maturation almost in front of our eyes, and they would not be denied offensively. Bortles led two more scoring drives of 61 yards, including a long throw to WR Keelan Cole setting up Fournette’s third TD run of the day from three yards out. Then the second scoring drive culminated with Bortles floating this ball in the air for this score:

Tommy Bohanon’s 14 yard TD stretched the lead back to 42-28 for Jacksonville.

Fournette, who limped to the sideline and the locker room to have his ankle checked, did return in the second half and finished with 25 carries 109 yards and 3 TDs.

Meanwhile, Roethlisberger didn’t blink, leading a 75 yard TD drive of his own and then, made this heads up play by throwing the backwards pass to Bell who took it in to trim the high scoring game to 42-35.

However, the Steelers botched the onside kick, that hit their own player first and the Jags recovered with 2:17 remaining.

Jacksonville forced Pittsburgh to use their remaining timeouts, as they moved into field goal range and kicker Josh Lambo iced the game with a 45 yard field goal and a 45-35 lead.

Roethlisberger threw his final TD of the day with :01 left, but it was not enough.

The win puts the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game for the third time in franchise history, and the first time since the 1999 season.

They will play at Foxboro against the Patriots in two weeks for the right to go to Super Bowl LII.

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