Archive for Sunday, January 6, 2008

Late kick saves Jaguars

Jacksonville overcomes collapse to defeat Steelers, 31-29

January 6, 2008


— Never in the Steelers' 75 seasons had a team beaten them twice in Pittsburgh in the same season. The Jaguars beat history - and the Steelers - despite a memorable fourth-quarter collapse that nearly cost Jacksonville its season.

Josh Scobee saved the game by kicking a 25-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining and the Jaguars came back after squandering an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat the Steelers, 31-29, on Saturday night in an AFC wild-card game that was wild in every sense of the word.

Jacksonville appeared to be done after Najeh Davenport's second one-yard TD run of the game gave the Steelers a 29-28 lead with about six minutes remaining. But quarterback David Garrard, not a great runner, found a seam on a convert-or-else fourth-and-2 play and rambled 32 yards to the Steelers 11 with 1:56 left.

"Right before we went out, I pulled the guys together and said, 'Guys, you got to love it, this is what we're here for,"' coach Jack Del Rio said. "Now let's go out and make some plays and win it."

Garrard aided the Steelers' comeback by throwing two interceptions - one less than he had all season - only to come up with the play that may have saved the Jaguars' season.

"They kind of lost their gaps, they thought pass, I was able to get through there," Garrard said. "I just wanted to get a first down."

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (29-of-42, 337 yards) put the Steelers into a deep hole by throwing three interceptions before halftime, then got rolling after he began lining up in a shotgun formation and threw touchdown passes to Santonio Holmes (37 yards) and Heath Miller (14 yards) in 41â2 minutes of the fourth quarter to get Pittsburgh within 28-23.

The Steelers rallied from 15 points down to tie Jacksonville late in the Jaguars' 29-22 win at Heinz Field on Dec. 16 but couldn't close the deal. They couldn't this time, either, even though Roethlisberger, shouldering the Steelers' offense virtually by himself with no running game, was 17-of-23 for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

The Jaguars have beaten Pittsburgh four times in the last three seasons, including their 29-22 win on Dec. 16, and they appeared ready to do easily by building a 28-10 lead behind backup running back Maurice Jones-Drew's playmaking.

Jones-Drew, escaping Jaguars star Fred Taylor's shadow in a performance filled with big plays, scored on a 43-yard swing pass after one of Roethlisberger's interceptions and a 10-yard run that provided the 18-point lead. Jones-Drew's 96-yard kickoff return the first time Jacksonville touched the ball set up Taylor's one-yard touchdown run and immediately answer the Steelers' opening-possession 80-yard touchdown drive.


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