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Jacksonville set up Patriots' game as they hang on to beat the Steelers

The Jaguars scored 14 points off turnovers in the first half.

Blake Bortles led the Jags to victory.
Blake Bortles led the Jags to victory.
Image: UPI/PA Images

Jacksonville Jaguars 45 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 42

THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS survived a spirited second-half comeback by the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field this evening to book their spot in the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots next Sunday.

A touchdown by full back Tommy Bohanon to cap an eight-play, 75 yard drive with just over four minutes to go looked to have been enough to secure the win for the Jags, but the Steelers responded with a touchdown of their own from Le’Veon Bell to make it a one-score game.

However, a failed onside kick gave Jacksonville great field position and Josh Lambo’s field goal with under two minutes remaining — the first of the game — was good enough to put the game out of reach.

It was a result the Jags fully deserved after dominating the first half, racing into a 21-point lead thanks to a combination of great defence and inept play calling on behalf of the Steelers.

Jacksonville’s first score came on the game’s opening drive, Leonard Fournette leaping into the end zone on fourth and goal before a Myles Jack interception set up a short field for the rookie running back to score his second touchdown of the game in the second quarter.

Source: UPI/PA Images

After the Steelers failed to convert a fourth down of their own, Jacksonville put together a 75-yard drive culminating in TJ Yeldon scoring to give them a 21-point lead.

The Steelers finally troubled the scoreboard operators when Ben Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown who made a one-handed grab at the back of the end zone but the Jags restored their 21-point lead when Yannick Ngakoue sacked the Steelers’ quarterback and his team-mate, Telvin Smith, recovered the fumble and raced 52 yards to the end zone.

However, the home side made it 28-14 at the break, Roethlisberger connecting with Martavis Bryant on 4th-and-11 from the Jacksonville 36 to give his team a sliver of hope in a game in which they had been thoroughly outclassed.

Source: Keith Srakocic

The Steelers reduced the gap to seven points on the opening drive of the second half, Le’Veon Bell making yet another brilliant grab in the end zone to make it 28-21.

The rest of the third quarter was a cagey affair and it wasn’t until 10 minutes to go in the fourth that Fournette scored his third touchdown of the day, capitalising on more terrible play calling on fourth down by the Steelers to give his side a 35-21 lead.

Once more though, Pittsburgh turned to Brown in a crucial situation, Roethlisberger connecting with his All-Pro wide receiver on fourth-and-five from the Jacksonville 43 yard line to reduce the gap to seven points once more.

After Bohanon’s score, the Steelers made it a one-score game again, Bell taking a lateral pass from Roethlisberger into the end zone to make it 42-35 but the onside kick failed.

That Jacksonville a short field and Josh Lambo converted the field goal which, ultimately, proved enough to secure the three-point win.

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Steve O'Rourke

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