Jaguars outlast Steelers to advance to AFC title game

Down by 21 points twice in the first half, the Pittsburgh Steelers still gave the Jacksonville Jaguars all they could handle in Sunday’s AFC divisional matchup.

In a game that featured a dozen touchdowns, the difference ultimately was a 45-yard field goal by the Jaguars’ Josh Lambo to put Jacksonville ahead by 10 with 1:45 left in the game.

As they did throughout the second half, the Steelers responded. They drove 71 yards in 9 plays to the Jacksonville four yard. But Ben Roethlisberger’s short touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Shuster for a touchdown came with but one second left on the clock.

The final score; Jacksonville 45, Pittsburgh 42. The Jaguars will take on the Patriots in New England for the AFC title next weekend.

The Jaguars dominated the Steelers in the first half. Running back Leonard Fournette ran for two scores. T.J. Yeldon had a touchdown run as well.

Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for 23 yards to make it 21-7 with 8:20 left in the half. But on Pittsburgh’s next possession, Roethlisberger fumbled and Jacksonville linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up the loose ball and ran 50 yards for the score.

Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 36-yard touchdown to cut the Jaguars lead to 28-14 at the half.

The Steelers cut the lead to 7 on their first possession of the second half, going 77 yards in 10 plays. Roethlisberger’s 19-yard pass to Le’Veon Bell — his third touchdown pass of the afternoon — made it 28-21.

The Steelers didn’t get any closer until the final play from scrimmage. Still, twice in the fourth quarter the Jaguars extended the lead to 14 points, only to watch Roethlisberger put together a pair of 75-yard drives to keep Pittsburgh within reach.

Roethlisberger finished 37 of 58 for 469 yards and a franchise-record five touchdowns — three on fourth down plays. In addiiton to the lost fumble, he threw one interception.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortle managed to steer clear of the Pittsburgh defense, which led the NFL with 55 sacks. He was 14 of 26 for just 214 yards, but his 45-yard strike to Keelan Cole set up Fournette’s third touchdown to make it 35-21. After the Steelers responded to cut the lead to 7 again, Bortles connected with Tommy Bohanon for a 14-yard touchdown with 4:19 left in the game.

Fournette, who left the game with an injured ankle in the second quarter, came back in the second half to finish with 109 yards on 25 carries.