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Make No Mistake: Steelers Win

October 02, 2000|From Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After two near misses, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally won Sunday.

With Kordell Stewart avoiding costly mistakes and Jerome Bettis leading a running game that produced 209 yards and three touchdowns, the Steelers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-13.

They made more of the kind of errors that can cost a team games, but an inspired defense kept the sputtering Jaguars out of the end zone until the final minute to drop Jacksonville (2-3) below .500 for the first time since 1996.

"It's been tough opening 0-3," Steeler Coach Bill Cowher said.

"They played two games they could've won and should've won, but we didn't. The most important thing is not to lose sight of how you got into the 59th minute and be in a position to win a game.

"As I told the guys, don't focus on that last 40 or 50 seconds. Let's focus on what we did to get ourselves in that position."

The Steelers (1-3) withstood a blocked punt, a kickoff that went out of bounds to give Jacksonville the ball at its 40, and three turnovers.

Bettis scored on runs of one and three yards. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala's five-yard, first-quarter touchdown ended Pittsburgh's three-game touchdown drought against Jacksonville, which had won three in a row in the AFC Central rivalry.

The Steelers sacked Mark Brunell seven times and forced two turnovers by the quarterback, who completed 15 of 32 passes for 137 yards, with one interception. The Jaguars were limited to two field goals by Steve Lindsey until Jamie Martin completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell with nine seconds to play.

"We had a lot of opportunities. They just took us out of our game," Brunell said. "We wanted to run the ball and we weren't able to. When that's taken away, you have to throw it, and we didn't execute there, either."

Stewart, starting with Kent Graham sidelined because of a bruised right hip, completed 10 of 16 passes for 132 yards, with one interception. The Steelers rushed for 209 yards, with Bettis running for 97 yards in 28 carries and Fuamatu-Ma'afala gaining 51 in seven.

The Jaguars sputtered on offense for the third consecutive game.

"We're not a very good football team right now," Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin said. "We're not doing much that I can relate to.

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