JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Ben Roethlisberger had plenty of help
in pulling off the first last-minute drive of his career.
The rookie quarterback extended both his and Pittsburgh's
winning streak to 10 games by engineering a late drive Sunday night
to set up a 37-yard field goal by Jeff Reed with 18 seconds left
that gave the Steelers a 17-16 win over Jacksonville.
The drive, the kind pulled off multiple times by stars like John
Elway, Dan Marino and Joe Montana, covered 56 yards in six plays
after Josh Scobee made a 36-yard field goal with 1:55 left that
gave the Jaguars the lead.
"It's something special what he's doing," guard Alan Faneca
said. "Is a rookie quarterback supposed to win a game like that on
the road in a hostile environment in prime time? Probably not. That
says a lot about him. He's special."
Roethlisberger said that the Steelers' regular 2-minute drill
routine is to put 1:47 on the clock and play with no timeouts and
needing a field goal.
"I want the ball in my hands," he said. "I want to have
control of the outcome of the game."
But the young quarterback, who set a record for most wins by a
rookie quarterback, wasn't the only star of the last-minute
Reed drilled the kick, of course. And the win by the Steelers
(10-1) was a testament to coach Bill Cowher's clock management. He
used all three of his timeouts before the 2-minute warning as
Jacksonville was driving for the go-ahead field goal, preserving
plenty of time for his offense.
Then Roethlisberger was 3-of-4 for 39 yards on the winning
drive, and the one incompletion was a spike after he calmly let the
clock run down to avoid giving the Jaguars much time for a march of
He finished the night 14-of-17 for 221 yards and two touchdowns
and had a passer rating of 158, just three-tenths of a point from
perfection. He also rushed for 40 yards after three rather sluggish
games in an otherwise brilliant rookie year.
"We had opportunities," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "One
play -- and we had any number of chances at a play -- and we'd be a
whole lot happier right now. It didn't happen."
The Steelers are one win from clinching the AFC North and hold a
tiebreaker for home-field advantage in the AFC over the New England
Patriots, whom they handed their only loss. They hold a four-game
lead over Baltimore with four games left, but their only loss of
the season was to the Ravens, when veteran quarterback Tommy Maddox
was injured and Roethlisberger took over.
Jacksonville, which could have moved into a tie with Baltimore
and Denver for the final AFC wild-card spot, remains a game behind
those two. The Jaguars have had 11 of their 12 games decided in the
Pittsburgh scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, but
was held without a point for the rest of the game until the final
In the first three quarters, the Jags moved inside the
Pittsburgh 15 three times, but came out with only six points --
Scobee missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter
and made two others.
"It was as tough a loss as we've had since the AFC championship
game in 1999," said wide receiver Jimmy Smith, who has been with
the Jaguars since their founding as an expansion team 10 seasons
The first Steelers TD came after a 77-yard, seven-play drive
when Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for a 37-yard score.
Leftwich, who finished 16-of-27 for 268 yards, countered with a
12-play, 73-yard drive, finding Troy Edwards from 22 yards. As Ward
did on the first TD, Edwards broke a tackle and ran in for the
Pittsburgh made it 14-7 on Roethlisberger's 26-yard pass to
tight end Jay Riemersma to cap a 72-yard drive.
Jacksonville cut it to 14-10 on Scobee's 20-yard field goal on
its first second-half possession, in which it went from its 2 to
the Pittsburgh 2. There were two big plays on the drive: a 56-yard
pass from Leftwich to third-string tight end Todd Yoder and a
36-yarder to Edwards.
Scobee's 29-yarder in the final seconds of the third quarter
made it 14-13.
Riemersma sprained an ankle on his touchdown catch and
didn't return to the game. ... Running back Duce Staley returned
for Pittsburgh after missing four games, and rushed 51 yards on 17
carries. ... Three former Steelers had good nights for the Jaguars
-- linebacker Jason Gildon had a sack, Edwards had five catches for
90 yards and the TD, and running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala picked
up several first downs on short yardage. ... The crowd of 76,877
was a record for Jacksonville.