By Ray Porter Jr.
PITTSBURGH, PA–Fresh off their 20-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping to quickly learn from it and make necessary adjustments before their Thursday Night Game vs. the Tennessee Titans. And they made such adjustments by making rookie CB Joey Porter Jr. a starter, sitting Right T Chukwuma Okorafor in favor of rookie T Broderick Jones, welcoming back Pro Bowl DT Cam Heyward, and Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada choosing to leave the coach’s booth and stand on the sideline.
The end results: A 20-16 win over the Titans in front of an Acrisure Stadium crowd of 65,969 and a national Thursday Night Football audience.
“I’m really excited about the win,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “First and foremost, from a penalty perspective, part of being a tough team to beat is not kicking your own butt. And we kind of been doing that some and we must own that, so we will. We needed this one, and it’s good to get it, get it on a short week, and being in the clubhouse on a Thursday Night with the necessary victory for the week. Excited for them.”
One of the benefits of the Steelers’ victory was the ability to run the ball more effectively. As a team, they rushed for 166 yards on 30 carries (led by Jaylen Warren’s 88 and Najee Harris’ 69). WR Calvin Austin also added ten on an end-around and Harris scored their first TD on a 10-yard run on their first drive of the game.
When asked about the running game, Tomlin replied, “You know, I thought we converted some 3rd downs earlier. You know, we’ve just been talking about it. You convert possession downs; you get more snaps. So, I think we converted our first 3rd down of the game.
Steelers QB Kenny Pickett (19/30 160 yards, TD) was also much more effective as he led his team on 4 scoring drives, and two of them ending with TDs. In addition to the Harris TD, he found WR Diontae Johnson for a 3-yard TD (His first in 2 seasons) for the go-ahead score late in the 4th Quarter. Johnson would finish the night catching 7 passes for 90 yards. K Chris Boswell would add 2 FGs (29 and 30 yards)
The defense would work hard to hold off Titans rookie QB Will Levins (22/39, 262 yards, INT) and RB Derrick Henry, and although they weren’t perfect, they were very impressive. They sacked Levis 4 times (2 by LB Alex Highsmith, one by LB TJ Watt and LB Markus Golden) and his pass that was intercepted by LB Kwon Alexander sealed the victory for the Steelers. The defense also slowed down the unstoppable Henry and held him to 75 yards, although he scored a 2-yard TD.
When asked about the defensive unit’s ability to slow down Henry, Tomlin replied, “I thought we did a good job. I just thought the penalties were catastrophic to our defensive effort. It really was. But Cam Heyward was back. Cam’s presence is significant, guys-particularly in terms of defending the run.”
The Steelers will now have a mini bye as their next game is ten days from now (November 12th) as they host the Green Bay Packers.
“Well rest up, take advantage of the long weekend, and begin our next process.” Said Tomlin.
Notes: Steelers LB Cole Holcomb left the game on a stretcher due to a knee injury. Titans WR Treylon Burks also left the game on a stretcher after landing hard after an attempted pass.
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