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Jaguars defense played better than you think

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NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to advance to the AFC Division Championship round 45-42. The 42 points that the Steelers scored stands out for a Jaguars team that’s not used to opponents scoring over 20 points, let alone over 40. You’d think that the defense had a bad showing against the Steelers, but I would vehemently disagree that they played poorly on Sunday.

The 42 points the Jaguars gave up to the Steelers is worlds different than say the 44 points they gave up to the San Francisco 49ers. There was about one play, the Martavis Byrant touchdown, that I would say was just a blown play by the Jaguars defense. On that particular play it appeared safety Tashaun Gipson hesitated a split second, which allowed Bryant to get past him for the touchdown.

The other touchdowns the Steelers had? I’m just chalking that up to superstar players high rolling and making superstar plays. Most of them the Jaguars defense was in great and/or near perfect position to defend the play, but the Steelers player just made an other worldly play.

For instance on the first touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, who’s easily the best wide receiver in the NFL, he used one hand to trap A.J. Bouye’s arm and extend while using the other to reel in the pass for the touchdown. Offensive pass interference? Sure, but someone like Brown is going to get away with it nearly every time.

The Le’Veon Bell touchdown reception I’m not sure how linebacker Telvin Smith could have played it any better. He didn’t allow Bell to make a clean catch on the ball in tight coverage, the ball rattles around and miraculously comes down with the catch. For Brown’s second touchdown catch he just snatched a perfect pass in the perfect location with Bouye draped all over him. How do you defend that better?

I don’t even want to talk about the janky lateral touchdown late in the game, but when do you ever see that?

The biggest thing for the Jaguars defense on Sunday is they had to protect a lead and that’s exactly what they did. The Steelers never once caught up, despite making a ton of insane high roll plays.