James Stewart had a career night, and Mark Brunell had another great game. But as much as anyone, Coach Tom Coughlin gets the credit for the Jacksonville Jaguars' latest victory.
Tired of watching his team grind and kick field goals, Coughlin took a well-timed gamble tonight that propelled the Jaguars to a 20-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Jaguars earned the first sweep of their AFC Central rivals and improved the NFL's best record to 11-1.
Losses by Kansas City and New England Sunday would clinch the AFC's first playoff spot for Jacksonville, which grabbed momentum thanks to Coughlin's boldest call of the season.
With his offense moving but not scoring much, the coach opted to go for a fourth and one at the Steelers 24, bypassing a field goal that would have given Jacksonville a 9-6 lead late in the third quarter.
He sent Stewart off tackle for the first down. Then, after a penalty pushed Jacksonville back, Brunell made his best throw of the night, a 27-yard touchdown to Jimmy Smith that looped just over the outstretched hands of a leaping Dewayne Washington.
"That was an attitude play," said wide receiver Keenan McCardell. "That was something to show the Steelers, this is what's going to decide the game."
Coughlin said he listened to the pleas from the offensive line, which wanted to keep the ball moving toward the end zone. Tony Boselli said the gesture was appreciated.
"They hadn't shown they could stop us," Boselli said. "We were moving the sticks and grinding it out. We knew we were going to get it in there sooner or later."
Summary on Page D9