In the AFC Divisional Round.
Blake Bortles is 60 minutes away from a Super Bowl.
No, really. This is all real. It’s not a dream.
The Jaguars started off their first drive just how they wanted to, moving the ball down the field with ease. They mixed in play action with a couple of Leonard Fournette runs, which set them up inside the Steelers’ 10-yard line. Facing fourth down on the goal line, Doug Marrone elected to go for it, just like last week. Once again, it paid off, as Fournette soared through the air for a touchdown, reminiscent of the one he had in Week 5. Josh Lambo nailed the extra point, and just like that, the lead was 7-0.
After trading punts, the Jaguars vaunted defense stepped up for them like they have all season. On third-and-11, Myles Jack was lined up in man to man coverage, and made an athletic interception going toward the sideline, tip toeing in bounds to complete the interception.
The Jaguars responded quickly, with Leonard Fournette taking it off the right end, and running down the sideline, squeaking just in for a 18-yard touchdown. the Jaguars took a 14-0 lead with a little over minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Steelers finally got the ball moving on their next drive, with a 20-yard Leveon Bell run getting them going. Facing fourth down from the Jaguars’ 21-yard line, the Steelers decided to go for it. The Steelers pitched it to the right side, and it was snuffed out by Jalen Ramsey, who exploded into the backfield, forcing a 4-yard loss.
The Jaguars drove down the field on the ensuing possession, including a 16-yard Founrette run, and two Blake Bortles runs to add on to it. the 75-yard drive was capped off by a four-yard touchdown by T.J. Yeldon, who stretched out his arms for the score. With the Lambo extra point converting, the Jaguars lead was extended to 21-0.
The Steelers finally came to life midway through the second quarter, this time converting their opportunity in Jaguars territory into a touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on a perfect pass in the back of the end-zone, even with A.J. Bouye all over him. The 23-yard pass put the Steelers on the board, and the lead was cut to 21-7.
On the following possession, Leonard Fournette came up limping with a right ankle injury, the same ankle that has been bothering him all season.
The Steelers got the ball back with some momentum on their side, hoping to cut the lead before the end of the half. The strip sack master Yannick Ngakoue showed up to the scene, punching the ball out of Roethlisberger’s hand. Telvin Smith scooped up the fumble, and showed off his speed as he returned the fumble for a 50-yard touchdown. Smith was called for taunting on the play, which was enforced on the kickoff. The Jaguars had a 28-7 lead, but the penalty proved to be costly on the next drive.
Lambo squib kicked it, and the Steelers were able to return it around midfield. The Jaguars thought they had the Steelers stopped on a third-and-long on their own 36-yard line. However, Mike Tomlin elected to go for it, trailing by 21, and a difficult 54-yard field goal as the other decision. The Jaguars blew a coverage deep, and Martavis Bryant got behind the Jaguars secondary for a 36-yard touchdown to end the half.
The Steelers came out of the half rolling, and moving the ball quickly. The pass rush got no push on the drive, and Roethlisberger had all day to throw. He hit Bell on a wheel right by the running back, who was smothered by Telvin Smith. The ball was placed perfectly though, and Bell caught the 19-yard touchdown pass.
The Jaguars’ lead was cut to 28-21, and we had a ball game.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers decided to go for it again on fourth down. It had backfired on them once, and also gone in their favor earlier in the game. On fourth-and-inches from the Jaguars’ 39-yard line, the Steelers passed the ball, and Roethlisberger threw down the field to JuJu Smith Schuester, who failed to complete the catch with A.J. Bouye in coverage.
This moment marked as a gigantic one in the game.
The Jaguars offense, which had been sputtering in the second half, was facing a third down close to midfield. Bortles stepped up big, and converted the first down on an in route to Marqise Lee. The next play, Bortles took a deep shot to Keelan Cole, and the undrafted rookie came down with a 45-yard catch, placing them on the Steelers’ goal line line. the following play, Fournette leapt into the end zone again for a three-yard touchdown, and the lead was extended to 35-21.
The Steelers responded with a quick touchdown, another one coming on a crucial fourth down play. This time, it was a 43-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, and the All-Pro made a great catch once again.
Once again pressed in the game, the offense came up big. T.J. Yeldon saved the drive with a pass in the flat on third down, and took it 40 yards into Steelers territory. The eight-play, 75-yard drive was capped off by a beautiful play design by Nate Hackett, which left Tommy Bohanon wide open over the middle of the field for a 14-yard touchdown. The offense responded again, and it was 42-28.
The Steelers were able to score again, cutting the lead to 42-35, but an odd decision by Mike Tomlin to call an onside kick with two timeouts, and the two minute warning gave the Jaguars excellent field position. The Jaguars ran it three times, and set up Lambo for a 45-yard field goal, extending their lead to 45-35.
The Steelers last drive was a blur. They scored as the clocked clicked down to one second left. The whole drive though, you could here the “Let’s go Jaguars”, and “DUUUUVVVVVAAAAALLLL!” chants.
The Jaguars went on to win 45-42, and secured the biggest win in nearly two decades.
Holy crap what a game it was. The ups and downs. Bortles’ second half start, then his second half finish. Who could have ever imagined this team would score 45 points in a playoff game in August?
Your Jaguars are heading to play the New England Patriots for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Let that sink it. We can worry about next week another time. For now, let’s celebrate what a game, and what team this is.
What a season.