Steelers Hold Off Titans 27-24

(Nashville, TN-One kick) The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their undefeated record flashing before their eyes as a motivated Tennessee Titans team (also undefeated) had just forced a turnover and were driving down the field with only seconds to spare. The Titans saw blood in their eyes and were looking towards the end zone, but Quarterback Ryan Tanneyhill’s game-winning pass attempt to Wide Receiver Corey Davis fell incomplete. Enter Kicker Chris Gostowski for a potential game-tying 46-yard field goal to take this game into overtime.

But Gostowski’s kick missed the uprights with 14 seconds left, the Steelers take a knee which secured their 27-24 victory and improved their 2020 record to 6-0, which remains their best start since their Super Bowl-winning 1978 season in which they started 7-0.

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike TomlinPhoto Credit: Vince Butts UMT Sports )

“We talked about it all week. We knew they would not flinch. They have been in these type of games more than we have.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “To be quite honest with you, we knew that that was a winning edge for them, and it showed. We had something to do with how the game got as well.”

The Steelers knew that the Titans are known for come-from-behind wins, most recently last week against the Houston Texans. They are a team that is not fazed by trailing in a game-which most of their opponents have learned the hard way. But the Steelers had a game plan to punch the Titans in the mouth early and often and keep All-Pro Running Back  Derrick Henry on the bench. And the plan proved successful as they stormed to a 24-7 first half lead.

 

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw 2 TD passes to WR Diontae Johnson, RB Benny Snell had a 1-yard TD run and K Chris Boswell’s FG accounted for those 24 first half points.

“We wanted to answer all questions from you guys about how we start the game, and so we took the ball, we went down the field and scored a touchdown, so now you guys can stop asking me about it.”-Said Tomlin.

But then the second half happened and not only did the Steelers stop scoring TDs, they also were only able to manage 3 points in that half thanks to another Boswell FG. The Steelers ended up wasting opportunities to put the team away due to turnovers (2 Roethlisberger interceptions) and a rejuvenated Titans defense.

“We had something to do with how the game got as well.” Said Tomlin. “We gave up a big play for a touchdown. We turned the ball over. You do those things against good people; they are going to get back in the game a hundred percent of the time. And thankfully our guys did not blink and was able to hold it together and make enough plays to secure a victory. Not a perfect product.”

The Titans comeback began with a 73-yard TD pass from Tanneyhill to WR AJ Brown. Then after a Gostowski field goal, Henry came alive and eventually scored on a 1-yard leap into the endzone which closed the Steelers lead to 27-24. Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher was held to a mortal-like 75 yards after his 212-yard outburst last week. Brown led all receivers with 153 yards on 6 receptions and Tanneyhill passed for 220 yards and 2 TDs and was sacked only twice.

When asked about their success against Henry, Tomlin replied: “We talked about the importance of minimizing him…A tall task with a guy like him and particularly as we talked about from an attrition standpoint over the course of the game and you felt that. You felt him getting going, and that was troublesome. But that is just the attributes that he brings, and they bring to play, so that’s why it was important that we got started early.”

Roethlisberger finished with 268 yards, 2 TDs and 3 Interceptions. When asked about his quarterback’s turnovers, Tomlin replied “It’s NFL football. We play to win. We do not live in our fears. Is it a combat play? Is it tight? Yes, we have a quarterback that has been doing that for 17 years. Sometimes you have just got to acknowledge that they made the play in the moment and we desire to and that is why we are not going to live in our fears. We’re going to go in those instances to secure victory.”

James Connor (Photo Credit : Vince Butts UMT -Sports)

RB James Conner led the Steelers with 80 yards rushing and WR JuJu Smith-Shuster lead with 85 yards on 9 receptions. Fellow receiver Johnson added 80 yards on 9 receptions and the 2 TDs.

The Steelers were hoping to deliver the knockout punch with a TD with over 2 minutes left in the game, but Roethlisberger’s pass was intercepted which charged the Titan with hopes of another comeback win, but the Steelers defense held them to a field goal attempt. Enter Gostowski, who had missed 5 so far this season and hopelessly saw his 6th sail wide-right en route to the Titans first loss of the season

 

So now the AFC North-Leading Steelers will learn from this game and get ready for another heavyweight matchup as they face the Baltimore Ravens (5-1) at M&T Bank Stadium. A loss would have hurt, but a win (despite nearly blowing a huge lead) is beneficial.

“We won’t spend a lot of time celebrating this or appreciating this because it’s just more work that lies ahead, but we like that element of the journey and we’re excited about assessing what’s transpired, hopefully making necessary improvements and positioning ourselves for next week’s challenge.”-Said Tomlin.

Please e-mail Ray at rayporterjr72@gmail.com

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