Steelers Report Card: Game 6 vs. Jacksonville

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What looked like another runaway performance by Ben Roethlisberger and the offense quickly slowed to a halt. After scoring on the first three possessions and passing for 181 yards in the first half, Roethlisberger completed just one pass for 19 yards in the second half. Part of the problem was the gusting wind, but he missed several open receivers that could have put the game out of reach.


It was a big game for Rashard Mendenhall, who came back from a hamstring injury to rush for 146 yards on 23 carries, his first 100-yard game of the season and second in a row by a Steelers back. His 68-yard run to the Jaguars 4 in the second quarter was the longest of his career, but the Steelers had to settle for a field goal. His 8-yard TD run to the right pylon was a play the other Steelers backs cannot make.


Some big plays, but too many missed opportunities. Mike Wallace had two catches for 76 yards in the first half, including a 28-yard TD that made it 14-0, then nothing after halftime. Emmanuel Sanders had a 32-yard catch to set up the first TD, then never had another -- though he was open on two other deep overthrows. Hines Ward's 19-yard catch on the third play was the only reception in the second half.


The Steelers rushed for 185 yards, their highest output of the season. And, after beginning minus two starters, they lost G Doug Legursky on the first play of the second quarter. LT Max Starks got beat for one of the three sacks, causing a Roethlisberger fumble that was recovered by Trai Essex. But the line did a good job moving the pile and creating enough creases for Mendenhall.


Brett Keisel had one of the more dominating performances in recent years, registering two sacks and three tackles for losses and also deflecting a pass at the line of scrimmage. It was a big lift for a line that was playing without two starters and also lost NT Chris Hoke early in the second quarter. But there were too many missed tackles against RB Maurice Jones Drew, who had 96 of the Jaguars' 133 yards rushing.


Nobody had as many tackles as Jaguars MLB Paul Posluszny (16), but James Farrior came close (11). That included back-to-back plays in which he had a diving pass defense and a sack. LaMarr Woodley had two more sacks, giving him 3 1/2 in the past two games, and also had two quarterback hurries. But Lawrence Timmons did not have a tackle and missed chances to stop Jones-Drew for negative yards.


Rookie Blaine Gabbert completed only 46 percent of his passes for 109 yards, 50 of those in the final quarter. None was for longer than 21 yards. But CB Ike Taylor gave up his first TD of the season on a 18-yard pass that made it 17-10. S Troy Polamalu had one tackle for loss and made a big third-and-1 stop on Jones-Drew in the fourth quarter, but he sustained concussion-like symptoms and did not return.


Not a good day, even though no Steelers kick was blocked for the first time in three games. The biggest gaffe was a costly roughing-the-kicker penalty on Ryan Mundy that kept alive a Jaguars scoring drive when it was 17-3. K Shaun Suisham missed a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter and P Daniel Sepulveda shanked a 23-yard punt in the fourth quarter that led to Josh Scobee's 45-yard field goal.


It's a game the Steelers should have won by at least three touchdowns. The offense went cold after scoring on its first three possessions, but it did a good job sticking with the run and did not commit a turnover. The defense did not give up a play longer than 21 yards but missed tackles. Why try to block a punt with a 14-point lead in the third quarter? Especially with the punter inside his own 10, kicking into the wind?


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