Winners and losers in interesting Steelers preseason game vs Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) pressures Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) pressures Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers had some notable performances in their second preseason game against the Jaguars. Here are the biggest winners and losers. 

Leave it to the Pittsburgh Steelers to have back-to-back preseason games that came down to the wire. For the second consecutive week, Mike Tomlin’s team finished exhibition action in a nail-biter — narrowly defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars to advance to 2-0 on the preseason.

There were some very interesting performances in this contest. Some players blew our socks off while others looked concerningly bad in Saturday night’s game. Here are the biggest Steelers winners and losers against Jacksonville this week:

Steelers winners:

QB Kenny Pickett

I really liked what Kenny Pickett did against the Seahawks last week, but I truly believe he took his game to another level against the Jaguars in Week 2 of the preseason. In the second quarter, Pickett showed his poise and accuracy as he marched his team down the field for a score right before the half.

Pickett was on fire as he completed 6 of 7 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown, according to ESPN. His 151.5 passer rating and 10.9 yards per attempt on the evening were as good as we could have hoped for. My only wish is that we got to see him play longer in the contest, as he recorded just 8 total snaps. With another showing like this, we might have a real debate about who should be the starter in Week 1 against the Bengals.

WR Tyler Vaughns

I know his chances of making the roster are slim to none, but Tyler Vaughns is really making a name for himself these past two games. Just like in Week 1, Vaughns caught our attention in the second half as the young wide receiver made some impressive catches with the game on the line. Vaughn was able to chew up yards after the catch and he should be on the radar of other teams if/when the Steelers are forced to release him on cut-down day.

WR Diontae Johnson

The raw statistical production looks underwhelming in the box score (2 catches for 33 yards), but I thought Johnson played a very good game. The Steelers top wide receiver from 2021 looked smooth and explosive out of his breaks and had a clear connection with Mitch Trubisky. Johnson had one nice catch wiped away after a bogus offensive pass interference call. Had this been a regular-season game, he probably would have had a monstrous performance if he played more than just a few possessions.

S Terrell Edmunds/Damontae Kazee

I thought both Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee had very strong nights for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two safeties made a handful of plays in run support including some big third-down stops. These safeties didn’t play late into the contest, yet managed to get involved in 10 combined tackles early. They looked promising against the Jaguars.

Steelers losers:

Steelers offensive line

It’s hard to pinpoint the problems prior to seeing the all-22 film, but let’s just go ahead and say it was a very rough night for the Steelers offensive line — particularly the starting unit early in the game. They allowed several pressures on Mitch Trubisky in the opening drive and couldn’t clear a single path in the run game. Dan Moore and James Daniels had some particularly bad snaps. This is a huge concern this year, and this unit’s play needs to improve for his offense to stand a chance in 2022.

Steelers running backs

As much as a liked the running backs last week, I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the performances all around in Week 2 of the preseason. Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, and Jaylen Warren each averaged 1.0 yards per carry or fewer in this contest (which is obviously not a good sign). Much of this had to do with the dismal play of the offensive line against a quality front seven of Jacksonville’s, but the fact that the Steelers had 24 rushing yards on the night (1.7 yards per carry) was incredibly discouraging.

K Chris Boswell

I’m not going to come down too hard on Chris Boswell (it was just one missed kick), but clanging a 38-yarder off the uprights to go 0/1 on the evening isn’t exactly the start he wanted after breaking the bank this offseason. Still, Boswell has been fantastic over the past three seasons. I’m not worried.

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I’m going to get to a more detailed breakdown of the Steelers vs Jaguars game soon, but after watching the game for the first time, these were my biggest winners and losers for Pittsburgh in their second preseason game.