This was supposed to be an automatic loss for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Expansion teams aren't expected to beat Super Bowl contenders. The Pittsburgh Steelers were going to blitz the Jaguars back to reality a week after the first victory in franchise history.
Jacksonville made it two victories in a row Sunday with a stunning 20-16 triumph over the Steelers, who drove into Jaguars' territory three times in the final nine minutes--getting as close as the seven-yard line--but failed to score.
"To be the best, you have to beat the best," Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin said. "That's the way we looked at it."
The Jaguars (2-4) rallied to win at Houston, 17-16, the previous week, but this one carried more meaning. After all, the Oilers were 2-14 last season, while Pittsburgh was an AFC-best 12-4.
"This is much better," cornerback Mickey Washington said. "This is a big plus for the team, especially the young guys who maybe didn't have much faith or didn't have anything to relate to."
Coughlin was criticized by some when he benched quarterback Steve Beuerlein without letting him play an entire game. But Mark Brunell made the decision look good, directing the Jaguars to 267 yards--52 above their league-low average--and the most points in franchise history despite steady pressure from the Steelers.
Afterward, the mood was especially solemn in the Pittsburgh locker room. Greg Lloyd wouldn't address the media and Kevin Greene, who had 2 1/2 sacks, spoke to reporters in a barely audible voice.
"We've been like a yo-yo and our team knows that," said Steeler Coach Bill Cowher. "We come out and play good one week and don't play good the other week. The bottom line is we're sitting here 3-3."
The Steelers appeared to underestimate the Jaguars, who jumped to a 14-0 lead by early in the second quarter and then held on.
The Jaguars set the tone on the first possession, driving 89 yards on seven plays capped by Brunell's 10-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Tillman only 4:42 into the game.
Jacksonville (2-4) made it 14-0 in the first minute of the second quarter when James Stewart ran six yards for his first career touchdown.