It was going to take a near-perfect game from the Jacksonville Jaguars to come away with a victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers as double-digit underdogs, and their performance today did not qualify as that. The Steelers simply had more talent on the field and outmatched Jacksonville both offensively and defensively en route to a 10-0 start to the season heading into a Thanksgiving rematch with the Baltimore Ravens next week.
Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.
STORY OF THE GAME
The Steelers came into the week allowing -0.1 expected points per play — a mark that ranked second in the NFL behind only the Los Angeles Rams. That number is only going to get better after their performance here today. The Jaguars averaged just 3.8 yards per play in the game today. For reference, the New York Jets came into this week dead last in the NFL in yards per play at 4.4 yards.
It was a day to forget for the Jags' passing offense, in particular. Between the turnover opportunities that Jake Luton provided to Pittsburgh and an adjusted completion rate of just 53.6% in the game, they struggled to get things going for much of the day.
Offensively, it was another game where the Steelers didn’t necessarily need to be firing on all cylinders, especially with a comfortable lead against a Jacksonville defense that ranks among the worst in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger continued to get the ball out absurdly quickly, with a sub-2.0 average time to throw in the game. As a result, the Jaguars were hardly able to get any pressure at all on the 38-year-old quarterback. Roethlisberger’s 5.8 yards per pass attempt isn’t the most impressive number in the world — especially given the matchup — but he once again limited the big mistakes to an end-of-the-half endzone shot and managed the passing offense on the way to a 24-point victory.
Roethlisberger was able to get two big plays in the passing game that won’t show up in his numbers, however. He drew a pair of pass interference penalties on downfield throws to Chase Claypool — something we’ve seen a number of times this season. Diontae Johnson was the clear-cut top option in the passing game, as he has been for much of the time that he’s been healthy. His 15 targets in the game were 10 more than any other wide receiver, and he turned those looks into 12 receptions for 111 yards.
Luton did not have the best of times against a talented Steelers defense. He completed just 43% of his passes with a passer rating of 15.5, and he — like many quarterbacks this season — found himself affected by the Pittsburgh pass rush. He’ll likely end the week as one of the lowest-graded quarterbacks across the league, and he certainly hasn’t shown enough to deter the Jaguars from targeting a quarterback at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft.
James Robinson, on the other hand, continued to show that he can produce as the workhorse in this Jacksonville backfield with another strong performance. He played 41 offensive snaps in the game, with the only other running back snaps coming from Dare Ogunbowale (11) and Devine Ozigbo (2), and he rushed for 73 yards (45 of which were after contact) on 17 carries.
Defensively, Chris Claybrooks drew the start outside with both C.J. Henderson and Sidney Jones sidelined. It was a rough day in the office for the seventh-rounder out of Memphis. Pending review, he allowed eight receptions into his coverage for 75 yards and a touchdown in addition to picking up a pass interference penalty. Multiple missed tackles only added to the disappointing outing.
Daniel Thomas (42 snaps), Davon Hamilton (34 snaps), K’Lavon Chaisson (32 snaps) and Doug Costin (29 snaps) all saw 20-plus snaps for the Jacksonville defense, as well. Thomas came away with a pass breakup and interception, while Hamilton provided a solid performance against the run on limited snaps. It’s been an up-and-down season for the interior defender, but he has flashed at times.
For Pittsburgh, Chase Claypool did not do anything here to suggest his hot start to the season was a fluke. He caught yet another deep touchdown pass from Roethlisberger and drew his league-leading fifth and sixth pass interference penalty 20 or more yards downfield this season. It’s a talented rookie wide receiver class, and Claypool continues to profile as one of the more impactful players in that group.
ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.