The Jaguars’ 45-42 road victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC divisional round on Sunday was less a football game than a collection of unbelievable football moments. There were so many incidents that made the Ringer staff laugh, cry, and vomit that they had to be documented in one place. Here’s every moment worth remembering, in chronological order, from an unforgettable game.
1. Leonard Fournette Goes Jetpacks on the Jags’ Opening Drive
On the opening drive of the game, the Jags march to the Steelers 1-yard line and face a fourth down. Doug Marrone has the Jags go for it, and Fournette makes like a UFO.
Fournette looks like he is executing a double jump in Super Smash Bros.
2. The Steelers Do the One Thing They Aren’t Supposed to Do
The narrative entering Sunday was that Ben Roethlisberger’s five-interception game against the Jaguars in Week 5 was a fluke and that the Jags were unlikely this time to force as many turnovers. Then, Myles Jack intercepts Roethlisberger’s fourth pass of the day to give Bortles the ball at the 18-yard line.
Jack’s poise to collect himself and gain possession of the ball on the sideline is *chef’s kiss*
3. Fournette Becomes a Dancing Machine
Fournette can fly, but he can also dance. He takes a handoff from Bortles on first-and-10 from the Steelers’ 18, dodges two tacklers without breaking stride, outruns four Steelers to the sideline, and then expertly tiptoes inside the pylon for the touchdown.
Suddenly the Jaguars are out to an early 14-point lead. Take it from Steelers fan Pat Muldowney, social media director of The Ringer.
There's five minutes left in the first quarter and I already had to delete Slack from my phone.— pat muldowney (@patmuldowney) January 14, 2018
4. The Steelers Go for It on Fourth Down, Part 1
After all that chaos, the Steelers choose to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Jaguars’ 21-yard line. The decision is correct, but the play call is infuriating. The Steelers pitch the ball to Le’Veon Bell, who goes right and is immediately swallowed by the Jaguars’ defense for a loss of 4 yards. Trying to run Bell around perhaps the league’s fastest defense rather than up the middle at the line of scrimmage is the first, but far from the last, confounding play call of the afternoon.
5. Antonio Brown Makes His Case for the Hall of Fame
The moment that everyone is ready to write off the Steelers, AB makes it a game again with a silly one-handed grab against perfect coverage from Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye in the corner of the end zone.
It’s the first touchdown Bouye has allowed all season. He had been the league’s most targeted defender without giving up a score (zero TDs on 90 targets) entering the day.
6. Telvin Smith Is Awarded Seven Points After Stunting on Le’Veon Bell
As if the Steelers aren’t shell-shocked enough down 21-7 at home, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue strip-sacks Roethlisberger and Smith returns it all the way for a touchdown to put the Jags back up by 21 points.
Even better than the touchdown and the incredibly awkward way the ball came out of Roethlisberger’s hand is Smith staring Le’Veon Bell down and pointing at his face for the final 10 yards.
Me when I time a red light turning green perfectly and don’t have to hit the brakes leaving everyone behind at the intersection: pic.twitter.com/CsxaJCTdZq— Paolo Uggetti (@PaoloUggetti) January 14, 2018
7. The Steelers Go for It on Fourth Down, Part 2
Undeterred by their previous failure, the Steelers go for it on fourth-and-11 from the Jaguars’ 36-yard line with 32 seconds left in the first half, down 28-7.
My stream freezes, and 20 seconds later it resets as Martavis Bryant gathers the ball in the end zone. I still don’t know what happened, and neither does Jags safety Tashaun Gipson.
Halftime Score: Jaguars 28-14
8. Le’Veon Bell Earns an Oscar Nomination
As Bell goes out of bounds at the Steelers’ 38 after a 4-yard run, Jalen Ramsey picks up a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The only problem is that the replay shows that Bell was lightly grazed, to be generous, and then flopped like the adopted child of James Harden and Matthew Dellavedova. Then, a second replay angle shows JuJu Smith-Schuster actually pushed Ramsey into Bell, who then embellished.
Le’Veon is a faker; never forget this.
9. Le’Veon Bell Reminds Us He’s the Most Versatile Player in Football
Bell, who turns 26 in February, said this week he might retire if the Steelers franchise him again this offseason, proves he may be Pittsburgh’s second-best receiver while also being the league’s best running back.
Le’Veon is the realest; never forget this.
10. “Bugatti” Bortles Reappears
Jacksonville’s leading rusher from the wild-card round gets a sweet assist from T.J. Yeldon on this 16-yard scamper to convert a third-and-8.
11. Everybody Loses Faith in Bortles, Part Infinity
Bortles starts the game 3-for-3 but follows that up by completing only four of his next 13 passes for 30 yards, with no completions coming on passes traveling 10 yards in the air. The feeling that the Steelers will come back is palpable everywhere.
12. The Steelers Go for It on Fourth Down, Part 3
The Steelers once again find themselves with a fourth-and-1 in Jags territory, this time on Jacksonville’s 39-yard line. Once again rolling the dice, Pittsburgh declines to give the ball to Bell, the aforementioned best running back in the league, or have Roethlisberger sneak it up the middle against a surprisingly light Jaguars box.
How is this not an auto sneak? pic.twitter.com/RkGUk3WcmF— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 14, 2018
Instead, Roethlisberger throws an incompletion through the hands of Smith-Schuster, who can’t quite reel the ball in.
14. Blake Bortles Returns (and We Never Doubted Him for a Second)
We all know that Blake Bortles has an elite deep ball, obviously, as evidenced here.
That massive throw leads to ...
15. Leonard Fournette Gets His Trifecta
After leaving just before halftime with an ankle injury, Fournette returns to give the Steelers nightmares.
16. The Steelers Go for It on Fourth Down, Part 4
On 4th down, with the game basically on the line if they don't get it, Antonio Brown makes an amazing 43-yard touchdown pic.twitter.com/WuPNbshuZN— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 14, 2018
Please remember that AB returned to practice on Monday for the first time in nearly a month after partially tearing his calf, and came back to shred one of the best secondaries of the past decade.
It’s hard to describe just how good Brown is, but this is a good place to start.
Rice will always be no. 1 for me, and Moss is definitely 2, but Brown might be 3.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 14, 2018
17. Bortles Throws His Best Pass of the Game to a Fullback
Jacksonville dials up a play-action on second-and-8 from the Steelers’ 14-yard line, and Bortles floats the most adorable touchdown pass to, of all people, his fullback, Tommy Bohanon, who is uncovered as he crosses into the end zone with 4:19 left in the fourth quarter.
17. Roethlisberger Throws a Lateral for a Touchdown
Just a few plays after he rushes for a first down by faking a lateral pass twice on the same run, Roethlisberger throws a backward pass to Bell, who runs in for a touchdown with 2:18 left. Somehow, some way, the Steelers are still in the game.
18. The Steelers Lose the Game Because They Fear Bortles
Down seven points, with more than two minutes left and with two timeouts, the Steelers could kick off, force a three-and-out, use the two-minute warning and two timeouts, and get the ball with more than 90 seconds to try to score a touchdown. All they would have to do is put 10 guys in the box on first and second downs and dare Bortles to win on third-and-long. Instead, they do this:
19. Meaningless Points are Scored
The Jaguars stumble forward 9 yards and kick a field goal to put them up 10 points with 1:45 left, and the Steelers add a touchdown with one second left that puts the final score at 45-42, the closest the game has been since it was 0-0 in the first quarter.
Final Score: Jaguars, 45-42
20. God Is Real, and His Name Is Blake Bortles
He vanquished the Steelers.
We did it, J-town. pic.twitter.com/vmtiERvzNT— Jason Knew The Jaguars Were Quite Good Place (@nbcthegoodplace) January 7, 2018
Tom Brady is next.