PITTSBURGH – If the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t realize the value of Ben Roethlisberger, they do now.

Rashean Mathis scored on a 41-yard return of a Tommy Maddox-thrown interception in overtime and the Jacksonville Jaguars, taking advantage of four Maddox turnovers, rallied to upset the injury-thinned Steelers 23-17 Sunday.

The Steelers (3-2), losing their second straight at home, looked to be in position to win it following Quincy Morgan’s 71-yard kickoff return to start the overtime. But Maddox fumbled the ball away at the 27 with Jeff Reed readying to attempt a game-winning field goal on the next play.

Then, 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 and scored without being touched for his first career interception return touchdown. Maddox threw three interceptions while going 11-of-28 for 154 yards in only his second start in 13 months.

The Jaguars (4-2) were without running back Fred Taylor (ankle), but the Steelers were much worse off without Roethlisberger (knee) and star wide receiver Hines Ward (hamstring) and looked it all day, with their only touchdown on offense resulting from Jacksonville mistakes.

Maddox, playing with an injured calf, was intercepted twice on Pittsburgh’s first three possessions, and the Jaguars turned the second into Greg Jones’ 7-yard TD run and a 7-0 lead. Jones ran for 77 yards while subbing for Taylor.

While the Steelers did almost nothing offensively, they stayed in the game by scoring twice in a 62-second span of the second quarter. Maddox found rookie Heath Miller on a 15-yard scoring pass to start the second quarter on a drive kept going by a 15-yard penalty on Rob Meier for roughing Maddox and a 29-yard pass interference call on Kenny Wright.

Just over a minute later, Antwaan Randle El cut back toward midfield to get free and scored untouched on a 72-yard punt return, the first score on a punt return by the Steelers since Randle El had two in 2003.

The Jaguars passed up three seemingly certain points when coach Jack Del Rio chose to go for it on a fourth-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 22 and Jones lost a yard. And fullback Derrick Wimbush dropped an apparent touchdown pass while wide open, and the Jaguars settled for a Josh Scobee 23-yard field goal to end the first half after having a first-and-goal at the Steelers 1.

Matt Jones made a one-handed catch of a 10-yard pass by Byron Leftwich to put the Jaguars up 17-14 early in the third. But the Steelers tied it on Reed’s 29-yard field goal.

Leftwich was 19-of-35 for 177 yards.

Ward missed the first game of his NFL career with a sore hamstring after playing in 116 consecutive games. Roethlisberger was held out with a hyperextended left knee.

AP-ES-10-16-05 1645EDT


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