The Jacksonville Jaguars pounced northwards to Pittsburgh to stand against the Steelers for a chance to go to the AFC divisional championship game and ultimately the Super Bowl.
The top of the first quarter offered each team seven points: Steelers running back Najeh Davenport and Jaguars running back Fred Taylor. The second quarter gave Jacksonville the lead 14 to 7 with a touchdown that resulted from Rashean Mathis intercepting a pass that was meant for Steelers split end Santonio Holmes. Jaguars running back/kick returner Maurice Jones-Drew increased the point lead with a touchdown soon thereafter. Jacksonville 21. Pittsburgh 7. Such are the scores going into halftime.
The third quarter started with a spirit-booster for the Steelers as linebacker James Farrior intercepted a Jaguars pass. That series ended with a field goal. Steelers down by eleven points rather than fourteen. But, towards the bottom of the third quarter, Maurice-Jones Drew made another touchdown. Jaguars 28 and Steelers 10.
The fourth quarter started with an even greater dose of confidence with a TD by Santonio Holmes. Back to an eleven point game. Steelers tight end Heath Miller made a touchdown not long after Holmes’s. A two-point conversion was attempted and successful (wide receiver Hines Ward caught the ball), but a holding penalty was put on Steelers center Sean Mahan and they had to try again. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ran towards the end zone but didn’t make it. On the next Jaguars possession, Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor intercepted the ball. That series ended with a Steelers TD by Najeh Davenport. A two-point conversion was not successful, but Pittsburgh took a one-point lead with 29 on the scoreboard. With fewer than two minutes left to play, Jaguars quarterback David Garrard ran down to the ten-yard line! Sweet potato fries! Jaguars reclaimed the lead with a field goal, which gave them 31 points. Thirty-one seconds left to play. Upon Pittsburgh’s next and final possession, Jaguars defensive end Bobby McCray sacked Ben Roethlisberger. Defensive tackle Derek Landri recovered the fumbled ball. Final score: Jacksonville 31 and Pittsburgh 29.
Observations & Miscellania:
1. Tonight’s game, on NBC, began with the Faith Hill song number and then went to a close-up of Al Michaels and then a zoom/track back to include John Madden. Did the camera always start on Al Michaels’s face and I just never noticed it before the first time I noticed it (pretty late in the season)?
4. Bob Costas asked Cris Collinsworth a few questions about the Seahawks-Redskins game during halftime. Collinsworth was sweeping the press box ground at the start of the exchange. What an odd choice of a prop. Attempting to do a tap dance number with the broom a la Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire would’ve been more random but way cooler (in that silly sort of way).
5. After Ike Taylor intercepted the Jaguars pass near the middle of the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh fans started chanting “lets go Steelers, lets go!” Then Ben Roethlisberger gestured for the crowd the quiet down a bit so his players could hear his play call.
6. Najeh Davenport’s touchdown in the fourth quarter occurred after Pittsburgh had tried to get the ball in the end zone five times–I believe–but failed. On that fifth attempt, Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Hines Ward. Jaguars wide receiver Brian Williams was charged with defensive pass interference, which gave Pittsburgh another chance to get a TD.
7. David Garrad’s uniform was muddier than his offensive players. Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t look as dirty.
8. By the time Roethlisberger was sacked–the sixth time tonight–at the very, very, very bottom of the fourth quarter, my heart was pounding.
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