PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers played host to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.
Pittsburgh was looking to build upon a convincing 38-17 win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 5, and while the game got tight at the end, the Steelers managed to hang on, narrowly avoiding a second-half collapse for a 17-13 victory over the Jaguars.
Rashard Mendenhall was held out of last week’s game, but was back in the lineup against Jacksonville, running for a season-high 146 yards as well as a touchdown in his return.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 200 yards and a score as the Steelers (4-2) won for the fourth time in five games.
In the fourth quarter though, the Steelers removed Troy Polamalu from the game after the All-Pro safety sustained “concussion-like symptoms.”
Polamalu did not play in the Steelers’ final two series. Instead, he stood on the sideline with his helmet on and watched as the Steelers held on for win their second straight.
Polamalu made a key stop on Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew midway through the quarter, forcing the Jaguars to punt. The 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year dived at Jones-Drew’s legs to stop him for no gain.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said Polamalu had “concussion-like symptoms” and was held out as a precaution.
For the Jaguars, Jones-Drew rushed for 96 yards. But Jacksonville’s rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert remained winless as a starter.
He completed 12 of 26 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown on the day after his 22nd birthday. His heave into the end zone on the game’s final play was knocked down by the Steelers’ William Gay.
The last-gasp attempt appeared to be a long shot after the Steelers rolled to a 17-3 halftime lead, but Pittsburgh struggled in the second half before putting Jacksonville away.
The Jaguars (1-5) began the game with the ball at their own 20 yard line. They were able to move the ball into Pittsburgh territory, but the drive stalled out at the 46 yard line.
The Steelers began their first possession on their own 13 yard line and were able to move the ball with relative ease to open the scoring in the game.
Mendenhall’s 8-yard run finished off a 10-play, 83-yard drive and put the Steelers up 7-0. Mendenhall rushed the ball six times for 26 yards on the drive.
The Steelers defense stepped up again and forced the Jaguars to punt on their second possession of the game.
During the ensuing drive, Doug Legursky appeared to suffer a left leg injury and immediately went to the locker room.
On the very next play, Ben Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace wide open downfield and delivered a perfect pass. The 28-yard touchdown pass capped an 8-play, 72-yard drive and put Pittsburgh up 14-0.
Pittsburgh’s defense went back to work and forced the Jaguars to punt for a third time in the first half.
On the first play of the drive, Mendenhall blew through a hole for a 68 yard gain. He was brought down just inside the Jaguars’ 5 yard line. However, they would have to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham to extend the lead to 17-0 with just under 11 minutes to play in the first half.
Jacksonville showed some signs of life on offense on their next possession as they were able to get on the scoreboard.
The Jaguars got the ball inside the Pittsburgh 30 yard line, but a sack on 3rd-and-6 by LaMarr Woodley forced Jacksonville to attempt a field goal. Josh Scobee drilled it between the uprights from 46 yards out to make the score 17-3.
On the Steelers’ next possession, penalties in Jacksonville territory were a main factor for the drive stalling out. Suisham attempted a 46-yard field goal into the open end of Heinz Field, but pulled it wide left.
The two teams would trade possessions without putting up more points for the remainder of the half. Pittsburgh outgained the Jaguars 315-68 in the first half.
The Steelers began the second half with the ball, but they were forced to punt it away. Jacksonville began their first possession of the second half on their own 20 yard line.
The drive appeared to be over early, but a roughing the kicker call gave the Jaguars new life and they took full advantage of it.
Blaine Gabbert connected with Jason Hill for an 18-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 17-10 with 1:46 to play in the third quarter. The touchdown capped a 17-play, 80-yard drive.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars cut the Steelers lead further, 17-13, with a 45-yard field goal by Scobee.
That capped the scoring though as Gabbert’s throw on the final play of the game was knocked down in the end zone by Gay.
The Jaguars have dropped five straight to match the franchise’s longest losing streak in a decade.
Up next, the Steelers head to Arizona for a showdown with the Cardinals on Oct. 23 at 4:05 p.m.