On Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0) cruised to a 27-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9), helped along by more than a few inaccurate throws on the part of Jaguars rookie quarterback Jake Luton. Making his third NFL start, Luton completed just 16 of 37 passes for 151 yards with zero touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Steelers did suffer one major injury during the contest. During his post-game press conference (see below), Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said, [tight end] “Zach Gentry had a significant knee injury in-game. I’ll have on update on that, I’m sure, for you tomorrow.”
While Gentry is the team’s third-string tight end—and was active for just the second time this season—his injury takes on added significance considering that second-string tight end Vance McDonald remains on the COVID-19 Reserve list, having been placed there on November 9th.
In fact, the Steelers played more than half of the Jaguars game with just one tight end—starter Eric Ebron, who was targeted seven times by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and had four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
After the game, Tomlin said he had no update on McDonald’s status or potential availability for the team’s next game.
Tight Ends on Pittsburgh’s Practice Squad
In terms of potential reinforcements at the position, Pittsburgh currently has two tight ends on its practice squad. That is, Kevin Rader, a first-year TE out of Youngstown State, and Charles Jones, a second-year man out of Tulane. But the team signed Jones just five days ago, in the wake of McDonald testing positive for COVID-19.
As for Rader, he spent the majority of the 2019 season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad. He came into the NFL with the Green Bay Packers, signing as an undrafted rookie free agent last year.
Steelers Streaks Extended/Broken vs. Jacksonville
When placekicker Chris Boswell missed a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter it became his first miss after a franchise-record 25 consecutive conversions—and his first miss since November of last year.
When Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt sacked Jaguars quarterback Jake Luton in the third quarter, it extended the team’s record of recording at least one sack per game to a franchise-record 67 games. On Thursday night the Steelers can tie the Dallas Cowboys (1976-80) for the second-longest such streak in NFL history. The NFL record is held by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (69 games), who set the mark between 1999-2003.
Next Game: Baltimore Ravens
During Tomlin’s aforementioned post-game press conference, the Steelers coach said he knows that getting back in the “hot kitchen” of the AFC North—and playing the Baltimore Ravens (6-4) on a short week—will be a huge challenge.
“We gotta travel, we gotta assess the injuries, we’ve got to put together a plan and get ready in a very short week and so we’ve got some work ahead of us,” he said.
The Steelers are now 10-0 for the first time in franchise history; the organization’s next-best start came when the 1978 team started 7-0 on the way to a win in Super Bowl XIII.
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