The Pittsburgh Steelers season came to a close on Sunday afternoon after being defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-42 in the AFC Divisional round. The Steelers got off to an awful start, going down 21-0 early in the second quarter. The Steelers were able to bounce back and make it a two touchdown game going into half, 28-14. They carried that momentum into the second half, scoring early third quarter, making it a 7 point game. It looked like they were going to carry that momentum and tie up the game. The Jaguars had other plans. The Steelers could not get the game within 7 points until 1 second left in the ball game, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found rookie standout JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 4 yard touchdown pass.
The Steelers were able to rack 545 yards of total offense. Ben Roethlisberger was 37-58, with 469 yards, 5TD and 1 Int. Running back LeVeon Bell carried the ball 16 times for 67 yards and 1 touchdown, while getting 8 receptions for 88 yards. Star receiver, Antonio Brown had quite a day, grabbing 7 passes from Roethlisberger, totaling 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight End Vance McDonald gave them a boost with 10 receptions for 110 yards.
In the end, the untimely turnovers and the defense not able to get enough stops was the downfall for the Steelers. To get behind 21-0 to one of the best defense in the league was too high of a hill to climb. It was not that the Jaguars lit up the Steelers defense, but the defense could not stop Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25 carries. Quarterback Blake Bortles did just enough to compliment the run game, completing 14 passes for 216 yards and 1 touchdown. It was more about Bortles limiting his mistakes than it was the big plays he did make.
The Steelers go into the off-season earlier than they or many expected. They have some questions to answer starting with their coaching staff and personnel. The Steelers have now failed to make the AFC Championship game in 6 of the last 7 seasons. Is some of that coaching? I think some could contribute that to coaching, but some of it is personnel as well. They have some decisions to make regarding personnel, mainly star running back LeVeon Bell. Bell is a free agent at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season, and does not want to play on the franchise tag for another year. He wants to get paid and it just depends on if the Steelers want to meet those demands. Steelers quarterback quieted the talk of him retiring in his post game media availability, saying, "I look forward to next year with those guys". Any team with Roethlisberger as their starting quarterback has a chance. With some improvement from the defense personnel wise and some added depth on both sides of the ball, I think it is safe to say we will be talking about the Steelers this time next season.