By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire
PITTSBURGH – Resiliency.
You can pick the word, but it’s one word that came to mind to describe the current state of the Jaguars.
A few days ago, I wrote how the Jags and the Steelers were mirror images of each other, gritty, grind-it-out teams.
By watching their matchup Sunday, you could see why. Both teams grinded it out in a steady rain, and the Jaguars had more moxy, bravado, and perseverance in their 20-10 victory in the Steel City.
They battled its way through three turnovers. Trevor Lawrence had a bad pick and a fumble, and Evan Engram had the ball jarred loose. Yet, Lawrence played through it all to complete 24 of 32 for 292 yards, one a 56-yarder down the sidelines to Travis Etienne, who had a workmanlike 24-carry, 79-yard afternoon.
On the other side of the ball, they rattled Steelers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett throughout the game, enough to send him out of the game on a hit by Adam Gostis. They picked off two passes, one by Andrew Winagrd, who swiped a Steelers’ fan “terrible towel” and made his own swirl. You had to love it.
Arrogance? Nah, try a quiet confidence and an ongoing resillency.
You watch this team and see how they are playing on a championship caliber level. Kicker Brandon McManus continues to show why he can be the best offseason signing with his four field goals on a slippery field, as he has been one of the league’s most consistent in his craft.
This win was their fifth consecutive, and they are currently tied with the Chiefs, Ravens, and Dolphins for the AFC’s best record at 6-2. The Jags’ flat 37-17 performance to the Texans at the Bank Sept. 24 seems a world away.
Let that sink in for a minute. The Jags won back-to-back games in London and won a Thursday night game in New Orleans along with their home game against the Colts.
Right now, you can make a case for the Jaguars to be mentioned as the AFC’s best.
Unless they have a total collapse, the Jags will win the AFC South. The Colts looked good against the Saints (but that’s the Saints), and the Titans had a revival against the Falcons (but that’s the Falcons).
Since they were struggling at 3-7 last season, the Jags have gone 12-3 over their last 15 games. That includes a tight 27-20 loss to the Chiefs in the playoffs last season.
Right now, you can make the argument that the Jags can be mentioned in the same breath as being the AFC’s best with the Dolphins, Chiefs, and Ravens.
Kansas City has shown they can be fallible, but they still have Patrick Mahomes, who can win a game at any time. Miami? Are you sold on Tua Tagliavia? Lamar Jackson can be a one-man show, but he also can be erratic.
The Jags beat Buffalo in London, and Josh Allen’s stock has dropped. Allen is one of the game playmakers and gamechangers, but the Bills aren’t as infallible as they once were or once perceived.
Jacksonville enters its bye week, and momentum can be a tricky element with a team with five consecutive wins. They’re back at the Bank Nov, 12 against the once invincible 49ers, who have fallen on hard times and have a lesser record (5-3) than the Jags.
Lawrence offered the team’s current perspective, one that championship teams usually follow.
“We’re just getting started,” he said. “We know what’s in front of us. We can’t look too far ahead and think we’ve done everything.“
That’s enough to make you stay on board for the ride.
(Photo by Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers)