The Pittsburgh Steelers enter Sunday’s game on a five game win streak. They needed all 60 minutes of game-time to extend that streak to six.
The Pittsburgh Steelers stock as a team has soared since starting 1-2-1. The team entered Sunday 6-2-1 on the heels of three division wins in a row and stomping the Falcons and Panthers during their five game streak.
The Jacksonville Jaguars welcomed Pittsburgh to town and looked to end that streak. Through most of three-quarters, it looked as though they would get their wish.
The Steelers came out flat and the offense sputtered most of the game. The defense held Jacksonville to nine points through most of the game until the Jaguars scored a touchdown in the third quarter.
Things looked grim for the Steelers down 16-0 with just under three minutes left in the third quarter. From that point on, however, the Steelers had multiple players step up and send their stock soaring in an epic 20-point outburst and comeback win.
Ben Roethlisberger – Stock: Up
If you only watched the first half and some of the third quarter, you are probably thinking I am crazy. However, despite his struggles for most of the game, Big Ben had a final 17 minutes to remember.
From the point of being down 16-0, Big Ben threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback. Ben also scored the game winning rushing touchdown with three seconds on the clock.
Big Ben looked as though he was playing scared in the first half. His confidence did not seem to be there at all and it seemed the Jaguars had a hold over him from the past.
Big Ben shook that off and put the team on his back down the stretch to lead them to their sixth consecutive win. He may have been a large reason they were down 16-0, but he is also one of the main reasons they came out of there winners of six in a row.
Team Defense – Stock: Up
The Steelers defense has been a hot topic of discussion for the last few years. The unit is nothing close to what it once was but it does have a different feel about it this year as of late.
The defense was torched in the first half by the Jaguars running attack but the second half was a different story. After allowing 136 rush yards in the first half, the defense tightened up to allow just 43 rush yards in the second half.
The defense deserves a huge round of applause for holding the Jags to three field goals instead of touchdowns. They kept what could have very well been a 28-0 game, a 16-0 game and made the comeback possible.
Some key guys that stepped up include Javon Hargrave and Daniel McCullers. With Stephon Tuitt out with an elbow injury, these two came up big in the second half to help stuff run gaps and help slow down the ground assault.
The entire team strengthened itself at halftime and showed resilience and determination. That kind of adjustment has been a knock on the team for a few years so it is good to see them execute and adjust to how the game has been played.
James Conner – Stock: Down
Conner had a bad game and the timing could not be more terrible. The media will spin this to try to use it to point to the Steelers making a mistake letting Le’Veon Bell walk.
Conner had just 15 touches for a total of 49 scrimmage yards. With that dividing out to 3.27 yards per touch, the back had a bad day.
His stock isn’t necessarily down much because he has been great all season. He may have even made the stock up list or had his bad game ignored had he hauled in the perfect pass from Ben that he dropped for the go ahead score.
Conner will be fine and his play will pick back up almost as quick as it went down. He gets a good opportunity next week in Denver against the league’s sixth worst run defense in 2018.
Javon Hargrave – Stock: Up
Javon Hargrave has had a quiet season up to Sunday afternoon. That all changed when the third year pro suited up against the Jaguars.
Hargrave was slid outside to help replace Stephon Tuitt due to injury. Tyson Alualu started the game along with Heyward but McCullers and Hargrave quickly found their way on the field to help against the run.
Hargrave created pressure and stuffed lanes all second half long. One of the highlights on Hargrave was his pass rush ability out of South Carolina State in 2016 and he reminded everyone of why with two sacks on Sunday.
His blossom into a stud on the front is only moving this defense in the right direction as a group. It all starts with the front seen and the group they have this year is really heating it up as of late.
T.J. Watt – Stock: Up
T.J. Watt really wants to keep pace with his older brother J.J. down in Houston. He is in a four-way tie for fourth place on the sack leaderboard with 10 along with J.J. Watt, Von Miller and Frank Clark.
Watt also has four forced fumbles to stack next to the 4 his brother J.J. has. Two of T.J.’s sacks came Sunday along with two of his forced fumbles.
Watt has been everything the Steelers wanted and more when they took him in the first round last year. He has 17 sacks and counting in a season and a half of football in Pittsburgh.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Stock: Up
JuJu was quiet most of the game until he came up with two huge catches over the final two drives. His diving, contested grabs helped keep the momentum on Pittsburgh’s side for the comeback.
JuJu ended the game with eight receptions for 104 yards on the day. He continues to shine as a key in the Steelers offensive ignition.
Smith-Schuster provides a physical presence at receiver who is willing to drop the hammer when needed. He is hard to bring down and creates big plays all the time with his physicality and sure handedness.
JuJu is a great compliment to Antonio Brown and allows the offense to run out multiple weapons to give defenses headaches about who to pick to key in on. The fans love it and I am sure Big Ben loves it just as much, if not more!