Every week through the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 season, I'll run a simulation on EA Sports Madden NFL 24 for the Steelers opponent for that week.
The structure of the sim is rather straightforward. I'll allow the CPU to play the game against itself to allow for a more authentic simulation. Six-minute quarters, with the weather as close to the forecast as possible. I won't pick up the controller to aid the Steelers in any way.
The simulation will run with Madden's most up-to-date rosters. I will only take out an injured player not yet recognized by Madden if they are confirmed to be out for the game.
The sim Steelers have only lost one game so far this season and are starting to look even more put together as the true-to-life Steelers start to gel a bit better after the BYE Week. Still, the Jaguars are a tougher draw in Madden than last week's Rams, so it'll be interesting to see how these young teams match up with one another.
Long, Methodical Drives Eat Up First Half
On the game's first play, Jaylen Warren caught a dump-off pass and fumbled, but the booth overturned the play. The Steelers survived an early scare and got back to work with a first-down pass to Diontae Johnson. Two plays later Najee Harris ripped off a 21-yard run up the middle.
A false start backed the Steelers up behind the chains, eventually giving the Pittsburgh a third and eight. That’s when Darnell Washington caught his first pass, in for the injured Pat Freiermuth, for 10 yards and a first down just outside the redzone. On the next play, Kenny Pickett found Diontae Johnson for the third time on a corner route, out of bounds at the one-yard line. Another false start backed them up again. On second and goal, Pickett spun out to his left and was off target looking for Washington in the endzone, intercepted by Andre Cisco.
Cisco was tackled at the one, so the Jaguars started with difficult field position and relied on Travis Etienne. Three runs from No. 1 and the Jags got up to the 19-yard line. That ended the first quarter scoreless.
Trevor Lawrence opened up the second quarter with a 13-yard screen toss to Etienne, his first pass of the game. Two plays later, Lawrence squeezed one over the middle to Christian Kirk for 21 yards against Patrick Peterson to cross the 50. The Jags got into the redzone a few plays later with two Ettiene runs. At the two-minute warning, Lawrence hit Evan Engram on a corner route himself to get inside the 10, down to the six. On the next play, Lawrence completed his perfect drive with a touchdown pass to a diving Calvin Ridley.
To respond, Pickett had 1:48 on the first half clock for their second possession starting at the 22. Pickett looked to the sideline for George Pickens to pick up the early, and necessary, first down with 13 yards. On the next play, Pickett scrambled right and lofted one deep for Harris, who caught the wheel route for 53 yards in traffic. Washington followed that up with a 20-yard catch down to the one-yard line. Johnson finished it off with a touchdown reception to tie the game up with 59 seconds remaining. An impressive response from Pickett after the disappointing drive to open the game.
After two long drives and a quick response, Lawrence and his offense had a chance to respond, but knowing they’d have the ball to start the second half, the Jaguars ran the clock out.