Jaguars 23, Steelers 17
Between the formation and Tommy Maddox's eyes, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis knew the ball was coming his way.
If this had been Ben Roethlisberger throwing to Hines Ward, it might not have mattered. But the Steelers were running the play with Maddox and Quincy Morgan, and that was the difference Sunday.
Mathis stepped in front of Maddox's pass and scored on a 41-yard return in overtime and the Jaguars, taking advantage of four turnovers by Pittsburgh's backup quarterback, rallied to upset the injury-thinned Steelers, 23-17.
For the Jaguars, it was proof they belong among the NFL's elite.
"I think we showed we're one of the toughest teams in the league," Mathis said. "This is huge. This is a statement game around the league about us."
The Steelers (3-2), losing their second straight at home but only their third overall in 21 regular season games, were in position to win it following Morgan's 71-yard kickoff return to start the overtime. But Maddox fumbled the ball away at the 27-yard line with Jeff Reed readying to attempt a game-winning field goal on the next play.
"We've got a saying around here: 'Don't blink because you never know what's going to happen,' " Mathis said. "We didn't blink, we stopped them and then a big play happened for us."
After the Jaguars punted, Maddox looked to his left, then went back to his right to try to find Morgan on a second-and-10 play from the Steelers 35, but Mathis cut in front for his first career interception return touchdown.
Maddox, starting for the injured Roethlisberger, threw three interceptions while going 11 of 28 for 154 yards in his second start in 13 months.
"They ran the same route on the same formation before so I knew what I was getting," Mathis said.
The Jaguars (4-2) took away the pass and the Steelers' running game, limiting Pittsburgh to 73 yards and a 2.4 average. Jerome Bettis had four yards on four carries and Willie Parker was held to 55 yards on 21 carries.
Maddox, booed much of the game, was intercepted twice on Pittsburgh's first three possessions. Steelers Coach Bill Cowher considered pulling Maddox for Charlie Batch, but didn't because Batch has played only a handful of downs since 2001. Asked if Maddox had a bad day, Cowher said, "I think that's an obvious statement."