JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Ben Roethlisberger gingerly walked off
the field near the end of the game, grimacing and grasping his side
after another hard hit.
Big Ben was back. He wasn't back to form, though -- and the
Jacksonville Jaguars defense had a lot to with that.
Wearing protective padding around his midsection, Roethlisberger
returned to Pittsburgh's lineup on Monday night, barely two
weeks after an emergency appendectomy. The Jaguars made him pay for
his courage, harassing the quarterback and stopping the defending
Super Bowl champions' nine-game winning streak with a 9-0 victory --
the lowest-scoring game in Monday Night Football history.
"A lot of it was my fault," Roethlisberger said. "I told
Coach I'll be OK. When I get some more practice and get on the same
page with the receivers, we'll be good."
Pittsburgh couldn't run it either, managing only 20 yards on
Willie Parker's 11 carries and 26 yards overall.
Josh Scobee kicked three field goals for the Jaguars (2-0), who
improved to 4-0 against the Steelers in September and 3-0 against
them on Monday night.
The Steelers (1-1) kept it close all game, and got the ball back
with about five minutes to play, down 6-0. But Rashean Mathis
intercepted Roethlisberger's slant pass and returned it into field
Scobee kicked his third field goal, a 42-yarder with 4:26 left.
He had a 31-yarder late in the third and a 32-yarder earlier in the
fourth, and that's all Jacksonville would need.
"We moved the ball well, but we did a bad job of scoring
points," quarterback Byron Leftwich said. "To move to the next
level, we've got to have more than nine points but, we played a
tough team, man. The Super Bowl champs. It was a tough, physical
game and we came out on top."
Mathis picked off another one with 1:44 remaining, sending
Roethlisberger walking slowly to the bench. Mathis also sealed last
year's victory at Pittsburgh, intercepting a pass in overtime and
returning it 41 yards for the decisive score.
The shutout was Jacksonville's first since December 2003 against
Houston. It also was the fifth time the defending Super Bowl
champions have been shut out; the 1980 Steelers were blanked once,
and the 1981 Raiders were shut out three times.
"If you come in here with the mind-set of running the ball on
us, you may want to rethink that philosophy," Jags defensive end
Paul Spicer said. "It ain't going to be that easy."
Added running back Fred Taylor: "That's definitely one of the
best defensive performances that I've seen since I've been here."
Roethlisberger might agree. He threw his hands up in frustration
after his first interception, then walked off the field with his
hands on side following his next possession, when he took a jolting
shot to his midsection after throwing a pass.
He was sacked twice and knocked down several more times.
"It was a lot of good hitting out there," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "Two real physical teams going at it out there. I'm
real proud of the effort they put forth."
Coach Bill Cowher might be questioned for sending Roethlisberger
out against Jacksonville's aggressive defense -- especially after
his star quarterback woke up feeling sick Sunday and had a fever
earlier Monday -- but he wanted to get him ready for next week's
game against division rival Cincinnati.
"I forgot how this feeling is," Roethlisberger said of losing
for the first time since Dec. 4, 2005. "It's not a fun feeling.
But hopefully, it's how you rebound."
Jacksonville faces defending division champion Indianapolis on Sunday.
The Jags spent much of the offseason talking about closing the gap
on the Colts and winning the division, and after their first two
performances, they look ready to at least challenge for the spot.
The Jaguars spent the closing minutes celebrating their first
Monday night win since 2001, improving to 7-2 in the league's most
coveted time slot. It marked a new low for scoring on a Monday
night, however, dipping below the San Francisco 49ers' 7-3 win over
the New York Giants in 1990.
The Jaguars had plenty of bright spots anyway.
Leftwich completed 26 of 39 passes for 260 yards. Taylor, whose
best game came against the Steelers in 2000, ran 22 times for 92
yards and caught three passes for 29 yards.
Jones finished with six catches for 73 yards -- and each of his
first five receptions resulted in first downs.
Roethlisberger, the youngest starting quarterback to win a Super
Bowl, completed 17 of 32 passes for 141 yards. It was
Roethlisberger's first regular-season action since the scary
offseason motorcycle accident that nearly cost him his life.
The Steelers star broke his nose, upper and lower jaw, eye
socket bones, and got a concussion during his June 12 accident but
recovered in time to report for training camp with the rest of the
He sat out Pittsburgh's 28-17 season-opening victory over the
Miami Dolphins after having the appendectomy Sept. 3.
Roethlisberger returned to see Pittsburgh shut out for the first
time since December 2003 against the New York Jets.
"A loss is a loss," Roethlisberger said. "I don't care how
you do it. You play as bad as I did, that's how you get shut out."
Pittsburgh's 26 yards rushing on 14 carries was the lowest
in Bill Cowher's 15 years. The Steelers had no first downs rushing.
... The Jags have won 10 of their last 12 games dating to last
season. ... The Jags had three players leave with injuries: DE
Marcellus Wiley (groin), WR Chad Owens (ribs) and FB Derrick Wimbush (knee).