Not exactly the confidence builder Pittsburgh was looking for heading into the meat of its schedule following a four-game tour through the AFC South. Making matters worse, the team removed All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu from the game in the fourth quarter after experiencing what Tomlin called “concussion-like symptoms.”
Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 96 yards and a day after celebrating his 22nd birthday, rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert shook off five sacks to complete 12 of 26 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. He put the Jaguars in a position to win it with a last-second heave that sailed harmlessly to the back of the end zone.
“We had chances to score,” Gabbert said. “We’ve got to come out with more energy in the first half and play the game, start off the game, like we did in the second half, having that sense of urgency.”
Reserves Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman played so well in Mendenhall’s absence, Tomlin said he’d likely split carries this week. Mendenhall, however, reminded Tomlin why he’s topped 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons, rolling up 146 yards and a touchdown while running with a purpose.
A roughing-the-punter penalty on Jacksonville’s first drive of the second half gave the Jaguars a first down they eventually turned into an 18-yard touchdown from Gabbert to Jason Hill to bring them within 17-10.
Jacksonville got the ball back at its 23 with 1:01 to play and Gabbert showcased why the Jaguars took him with the 10th pick in this year’s draft. He shook off a first-down sack to move Jacksonville, which came in last in the league in total yards and yards passing and 31st in points, to the Pittsburgh 48 with 2 seconds to go.
“If you get out to a 17-point lead and get comfortable, you take it off their throat,” Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “We have to keep the same intensity the whole game. We started out with a lot of intensity and then we fell off a little bit.”
Notes: Ward caught three passes for 47 yards to move past Michael Irvin and into 19th place on the yards receiving list. Ward now has 11,939 yards. … New Jacksonville punter Nick Harris, signed last week, averaged 42.3 yards on seven punts. … Scobee’s two field goals gave him field goals in 14 straight games, a team record. … Pittsburgh G Doug Legursky left in the second quarter with a dislocated toe.
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