Cornerback Brice McCain proved that adage to be on the mark
Sunday when he came up with a momentum-changing 22-yard interception
return that helped the Pittsburgh Steelers a 17-9 defeat on the
McCain's interception came with 11:32 left in the game and was
Pittsburgh's third against Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
Bortles was making his first regular season home start since taking
the starting job away from Chad Henne two games ago and threw two
interceptions and fumbled twice but Jacksonville recovered both.
McCain stepped in front of Jaguars intended receiver Allen Hurns and
had a clear path to the end zone for his second NFL touchdown. That
gave the Steelers an eight-point lead that they nurtured the final
11-plus minutes to improve to 3-2 and rebound from last week's
deflating last-second loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"The thing I like about Brice is that he capitalized on the
opportunity," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "That's the type of
week he had in practice this week where he had probably four picks.
It just reinforces the concept of things that you do in practice,
have an opportunity to turn up in the game. It's just good football
justice to see him have an opportunity like that and cash in on it."
Jacksonville had just two other possessions following the
interception but the offense could do little against a Steelers
defense that did not allow a touchdown. The Jaguars made only one
first down in the last 11 minutes and never touched the ball in the
final four minutes as the Steelers used ball control to close out
It was the first time this season that the Jaguars had held their
opponent to less than 33 points. They had allowed a league high 152
points in their first four games.
Despite the costly interception, Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley came
to the defense of his quarterback.
"I know the emphasis is going to be on the pick-six, but I thought
Blake showed really good poise in coming back," Bradley said. "We
asked him to do a lot of things this game and he stepped up just
like how he went back on the field and attacked it.
"I thought there were some plays out there that we left on the
field. We had some dropped balls that I know we've made in practice
and now we've got to bring it to the game and make those plays. As a
team we need to finish better."
A defensive struggle was evident with the offenses combining for
just one touchdown and three field goals. The only time either
team's offensive unit reached the end zone was when Pittsburgh put
together a 10-play, 70-yard drive midway in the second quarter.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with tight end
Heath Miller for a 27-yard gain to start the drive. He then
completed five more passes in six attempts as he accounted for 57 of
the 70 yards. The score came on a 1-yard toss to Michael Palmer,
whose first reception of the season, gave the Steelers a 10-3 lead.
Roethlisberger's numbers were solid. He hit 26-of-36 passes for 273
yards and the one score. He spread the ball around, connecting with
11 different receivers for at least one reception.
Despite his 103.1 rating, the Steelers quarterback said he can play
[to top of second column]
"I was a little disappointed in the way I played," Roethlisberger
said. "As for the fumble, I just can't let it happen. A couple of
times rather than throw the ball away toward the end, I took a sack
because you'd rather the clock keep running. I just have to play
Jacksonville pulled to within four points of the Steelers late in
the half, once again turning to the talents of place-kicker Josh
Scobee. Taking over with less than two minutes left in the half, the
Jaguars marched 58 yards before settling for a 35-yard field goal by
Scobee, the second of his three successful kicks in the game.
Scobee added a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter to tighten
the game up to 10-9. Pittsburgh then put together a solid drive,
moving all the way down to the 13-yard line. But on a third--down
play, Roethlisberger was sacked, the ball popped free and Jaguars
defensive end Andre Branch recovered for at the 19.
That's when McCain made the biggest play of the game to send the
Jaguars to a fifth straight defeat. After a short pass lost two
yards, Bortles tried to zero in on Hurns but McCain stepped in front
of the undrafted rookie and raced to the end zone for the score.
Bortles' finished with 22-of-36 passing for 191 yards but had two
costly interceptions and did not throw a TD.
The Jaguars rookie quarterback said he checked out of a running play
into a pass play on the costly interception.
"It wasn't a good decision. We could have kept the run on and it
wouldn't have been a bad play," the Jaguars No. 1 draft pick said.
"It would have given us a shot and it's something that I can't make
that mistake again. I definitely can't check out of a play into a
"It was just a bad ready by me. Worst case scenario, I should have
just thrown it over his head and given us a shot on third down."
NOTES: The Steelers are on the road again next week at Cleveland.
... Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell topped 100 yards from scrimmage with 82
yards rushing and 36 receiving yards. ... Jacksonville's leading
rusher was rookie Storm Johnson, who had 27 yards on four carries,
including a 20-yard run in his first NFL regular season game. Top
free-agent acquisition Toby Gerhart continued to struggle and gained
just nine yards on four carries. He has 123 rushing yards in 48
carries in five games ... Steelers WR Antonio Brown extended his
streak of games with five catches and at least 50 yards to 21 with a
team-leading 84 yards.
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