1:00 p.m. ET
Key Coaching Decision #1: (JAC ball, leading 9-0 / first-and-10, PIT 46 / 1:12 Q2)
• Ben Roethlisberger had just thrown an interception and Jacksonville had a short field just before halftime. Up to this point, Jacksonville had run the ball very effectively, and had rarely thrown the ball at all. This was a good opportunity for Jacksonville to close the half with a field goal and go into halftime leading 12-0. Instead, Jacksonville called three straight pass plays for quarterback Blake Bortles, all of which fell incomplete. Jacksonville was forced to punt and ended the half ahead 9-0.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (JAC ball, leading 16-6 / first-and-10, PIT 41 / 12:43 Q4)
• After a strong stop by the Jaguars defense, they forced Pittsburgh to punt from deep in their own territory, thus setting up the offense with another prime short-field opportunity to put additional points on the board. Instead, the play-calling was once again deficient, resulting in a quick three-and-out.
• It is abundantly clear that the Jaguars simply don’t have any confidence in quarterback Blake Bortles. In this game, the Jaguars did a good job of staying patient with their running game in building a substantial lead, but ultimately, the deficiencies in the passing game showed up. The Jaguars defense played admirably all game long, but simply did not get much help from their offense.
• The high-powered Steelers offense was held in check virtually all game by the Jaguars. The Jaguars are one of the few teams able to get a pass rush with only four down linemen, and they also have two lock-down corners. This clearly is a recipe to frustrate the Steelers.
• One important adjustment made by the Steelers on offense was when they switched to a quicker passing game, getting the ball out of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s hand faster. Once they made this change, the passing game gained more rhythm.
• While Pittsburgh finally made an adjustment on offense to their passing game, it took them quite a while on defense to adjust to the Jaguars’ conservative offensive game plan. Without tackle Stephon Tuitt available to them, the Steelers showed great vulnerability against the run all day.
• Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has had difficulty all season choosing when to go for two points after a touchdown. In this game, after the Steelers had cut the Jaguars lead to 16-6, late in the third quarter, Tomlin decided to go for two. The try failed. Ultimately things did work out for him in the end, but this doesn’t negate the fact that here at HCR we feel a try this early in the game is not appropriate for the circumstances.