JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A week after a late-game debacle on defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers showed they can finish.
And the same unit that was embarrassed at home against Tampa Bay surely strutted as it left EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
It was just what the Steelers (3-2) needed to gain a little breathing room in a game much tighter than they probably expected.
Trailing by eight, the Jaguars (0-5) forced a punt and got the ball back. But Bortles failed to muster a first down.
Roethlisberger also connected on 15 of his final 17 passes.
But much of the postgame talk was about McCain's game-changing play.
Pittsburgh's defense looked somewhat suspect in the first four games, giving up 350 yards and 25 points a game.
The defense seemed to return to form against Jacksonville - no surprise given defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's history against rookie quarterbacks.
"Anytime you can get an interception, it gets you off the field and that's what you aim to do," he said. "When you can score, it makes it that much better."
The Jaguars didn't want a moral victory, but surely they will try to build on a close loss after dropping their past five games by double digits.
Jacksonville was in this one from start to finish.
Making his first start at home, Bortles completed 22 of 36 passes for 191 yards. He was hampered by several dropped passes - including three by Hurns - and a handful of untimely penalties. But Bortles' second interception was the biggest mistake.
"Bad read, bad throw," Bortles said.
Hurns dropped passes on three of Jacksonville's first four possessions. He also was flagged for offensive holding.
"I'm very disappointed," Hurns said. "You've got to be accountable. When the ball's coming to you, you've got to make those plays. So at the end of the day it's not acceptable. It's all about being consistent. When the plays come to you, you've got to make them."
Jacksonville had plenty of other chances, but Pittsburgh held on three trips inside the 25-yard line and forced the Jags to settle for field goals.
Jacksonville's defensive effort was more surprising.
Notes: Steelers backup SS Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) left the game and did not return. ... Jaguars lost RBs Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson, and Jordan Todman to ankle injuries at different points in the game. ... Jaguars WR Ace Sanders caught two passes for 12 yards and returned three punts for 14 yards in his first game back from a four-game suspension.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press