The Steelers get huge 19-13 win over Titans
[Pittsburgh,PA] December football is not for the faint of heart. It’s for teams who are so hungry to get into the postseason that they will do ‘whatever it takes’ to win. It is not about style-points, form, or fashion, it is about having more points on the scoreboard than the other team. And for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they desperately needed a win with their playoff hopes on life support as they welcomed the 9-4 Tennessee Titans into Heinz Field.
Once again, the Steelers used the second half to shine and came away with a 19-13 victory, improving their record to 7-6-1 with only 3 games left in the regular season. Ever since their game against the LA Chargers, the Steelers have come to life in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter as the offense would score points after being down a huge deficit, but this time it was the defense who stole the show as they held the Titans scoreless in the second half after a 13-0 first half deficit.
“Exciting victory for us. A very necessary one. Didn’t get the type of fluid stuff out we needed. I think we’re 0-for-1 on possession downs offensively in the first half.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “The punting component created short fields and so forth. They won the battle of field position. Their special teams was better than ours. But despite all those things I thought the guys continued to fight. The turnovers leveled the playing field in the second half and provided the short fields for us. And that was the catalyst for us to go ahead and secure victory. Appreciative of all the efforts.”
The Steelers defense forced four turnovers, one on an interception by LB Joe Schobert and 3 fumble recoveries, by LB TJ Watt, S Minkah Fitzpatrick and CB Joe Haden (who returned after missing 4 games). The Steelers also sacked Titans QB Ryan Tannehill 4 times, led by Watt’s 1.5. (DE Chris Wormley, LB Derrick Tuscka and DT Cam Heyward got the other sacks) The Steelers all-Pro LB now has 17.5 sacks, which is a new single-season record. The old record was 16, set by LB James Harrison in 2008.
“Field positioning in a game like that is real.” Said Tomlin. “They won the battle of field position in the first half, primarily because of our punt team, the ineffectiveness of our punt team. We won it in the second half because of the turnover game and really, it’s probably the difference in the game. So, the turnover game was significant.”
The defense was able to pick up the slack for an offense that had its struggles, especially in the first half as they were only able to generate three points. But in the second half, the offense was able to capitalize of the defensive turnovers and generate 16 unanswered points led by QB Ben Roethlisberger’s 1-yard TD sneak and 3 Chris Boswell FGs, which gave the Steelers a 19-13 lead.
But the Titans were not going to make it easy for the Steelers as they mounted one final comeback attempt with over 3 minutes left in the game. Tannehill (23/32, 108 yards, Int) led his
team deep into Steelers territory with the help of RB D’Onta Foreman (22 carries, 108 yards), but as the clock was ticking, the Steelers defense was able to keep the pressure on Tannehill after Tuscka’s sack. And on a 4th and 6, Haden was able to stop WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine from getting the first down with seconds left to play for a turnover-on-downs giving the ball back to the Steelers who ran out the clock and secured the victory.
Big Ben finished with 148 yards (16/15 passing) and scored the Steelers only TD. And although WR Diontae Johnson had only 38 yards receiving, he crossed the 1,000-receiving yard-mark on the season.
The Steelers must now prepare for a Chiefs (10-4) team that has won their last 7 games. If they want to keep their postseason hopes alive, they know that a playoff mindset starts now.
“I like the way the guys collectively smiled in the face of adversity. We’ll be thankful for this win. That’s a really good football team we played and were able to beat today.” Said Tomlin. “Hopefully, there’s some growth associated with conquering challenges like that. We’re going to need it, obviously, as we go on the road next week. But we’re appreciative of this win today. We’re going to savor it. We don’t take any of it for granted. It is the National Football League. We’ll be ready next week.”
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