PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers offense once again took forever to get going, and now has big question marks about when in might be able to after losing quarterback Kenny Pickett in a 20-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The offense got out to another dreadful start to the game. Matt Canada’s unit went three plays and out four consecutive times to start the game. At the end of the first quarter, having run 12 offensive players, they had nine total yards.
Yet the defense once again allowed them to hang around in the game. The Steelers forced field goals on the first two Jacksonville drives, one of which started near midfield.
They then earned consecutive turnovers, with Kwon Alexander forcing an Evan Engram fumble that Cole Holcomb recovered and Damontae Kazee intercepting Trevor Lawrence in the end zone.
Even though Kazee ran out of the end zone and out of bounds at the 2-yard line, the Steelers offense found some life after the second turnover. Kenny Pickett led a 12-play, 93-yard drive that only stalled when his throw to an open Diontae Johnson in the end zone was behind and the receiver slipped.
A Chris Boswell field goal got Pittsburgh on the board. The Jaguars answered with a the third three-pointer of the day by Brandon McManus, but Pittsburgh was driving late in the second quarter when a bizarre series of plays impacted not only the game, but perhaps the rest of the Steelers season.
Pickett scrambled out of bounds with 28 seconds left, but he was speciously ruled to have fumbled forward out of bounds, causing a 10-second runoff. The spot on the play was also off by a full two yards, but was later corrected on replay.
The Steelers absorbed that negativity, only for Pickett to be hit by Adam Gotsis and driven into the ground on the following play. Gotsis was not flagged for landing on Pickett with his full body weight. Pickett left the game with a rib injury and did not return.
The Steelers still looked to be able to salvage a field goal out of the possession, but a phantom offside penalty negated a 55-yard Chris Bowell field goal, and he missed the second try from just over 60.
In the second half, the Jacksonville offense, which had been limited all day, finally broke through with a big play. Lawrence looked right to a three-receiver formation and found running back Travis Etienne between cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and safety Damontae Kazee for a 56-yard catch and run.
Trubisky led one scoring drive in response, hitting George Pickens for a 22-yard touchdown. But trailing in the fourth quarter, he threw two interceptions which helped seal the game for the Jaguars.
Pickett finished 10 of 16 for 73 and a 73.2 passer rating. Trubisky was 15 of 27 in relief for 139 yards, three interceptions and a 69.2 passer rating.
Johnson was the top target, finishing with eight catches for 85 yards. Pickens was held to just one catch.
The Steelers (4-3) will have just a short week to attempt to right the ship, as they will host the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football in Week 9.