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Is it time for Steelers fans to panic? Absolutely. Pittsburgh's offense never achieved liftoff during a turnover-addled 30-9 loss to the feisty Jaguars (3-2). Here's what we learned from Jacksonville's road victory over the super-flat Steelers (3-2):
1. With boos raining down at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh's offense struggled to morph into the yardage-and-points machine you'd expect from such a star-studded cast. The stuck-in-the-mud attack managed just three field goals all afternoon despite attacking the Jaguars with names like Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Ben Roethlisberger authored pure disaster in the second half, unfurling a tipped lob that landed in the arms of lightning-quick linebacker Telvin Smith, who raced 28 yards for a score that put Jacksonville up 13-9. On the following series, a Big Ben rope was tipped by Jalen Ramsey into the waiting hands of Barry Church, who dialed up a 52-yard touchdown return for the 20-9 lead. With an unhinged five interceptions on the day, Big Ben's increasingly wayward season is something Steelers fans -- treated to endless success over the years -- will need time to comprehend:
Ben Roethlisberger has played 210 career games, including playoffs. He has never finished a game with 0 TD and 4-or-more interceptions.
â NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 8, 2017
2. Speaking of Ramsey, he's on his way to becoming one of game's premier cover men, but the Jaguars cornerback had his hands full against Antonio Brown (10/157). The All-Pro Steelers wideout beat Ramsey for a 49-yard gain early in the contest before getting the best of Jacksonville's secondary on a 23-yard grab before the half, a catch that set up Pittsburgh's second field goal. Ramsey, though, also broke up a rash of passes, generated the tip on Church's pick six and hauled in a beautiful, first-quarter interception of his own to set up Jacksonville's first touchdown of the game. If Brown got his yardage against this secondary, the presence of Ramsey and Bouye were also huge factors in Roethlisberger's horrifying afternoon. Jacksonville's defense must be taken seriously entering the heart of the NFL campaign.
3. What would Leonard Fournette look like in a balanced offense? The rookie Jaguars runner created some of his best gallops all year during a first-half scoring drive that saw Jacksonville run the ball four straight times in the red zone before Fournette leapt over Pittsburgh's frustrated front for a 2-yard touchdown. Down the stretch, the rookie blasted through Pittsburgh's tired defense for gains of 13, 12 and 11 yards before putting the Steelers six feet under with a 90-yard touchdown blast with three minutes left on the clock. What's most impressive about his weekly dose of work is that Fournette (28/181/2) piles up these numbers for a team openly hiding quarterback Blake Bortles. Jacksonville closed the game with 18 straight runs -- and Pittsburgh had no answer.
4. Coach Mike Tomlin's annoyed sideline stare said all, but I still see hope for the Steelers in the form of Ryan Shazier. Lost in the drubbing, the marvelous veteran linebacker snatched the ball away from Jaguars tight end James O'Shaughnessy in a play that showed unusual instincts. The turnover helped Pittsburgh punch in a field goal before the break and served as another reminder that Shazier has morphed into one of the NFL's most exciting players. Pittsburgh also saw rookie T.J. Watt punish Bortles on a third-down sack, but these scattered highlights weren't nearly enough.
5. The Jaguars were nipped last week by the Jets, but now march into Week 6 with decisive blowouts over Houston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. As for the Steelers, they now face a critical Week 6 clash with the super-solid Chiefs.