In a night where the Titans could have proved that they belonged, they flopped. It got ugly. Here’s how it happened.
The Steelers opened with the ball and didn’t waste any time. Ben Roethlisberger started hot, looking Antonio Brown’s way often. Brown capped the drive on a free play by beating LeShaun Sims deep for a 41 yard score. It looked like Kevin Byard was late to come over the top to help.
Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee offense was in an early 7-0 hole — which Mariota made worse. He overthrew Rishard Matthews and was picked off. Fortunately for the Titans, the defense got a stop in the redzone. The Steelers added a field goal to make it 10-0.
The Titans found a way to respond on the next drive. Mariota came back hot, converting three third and sevens on the drive. Mariota would scramble this one in himself to bring the Titans back to 10-7.
From there, the defenses stepped up. It was a back and forth — until Mariota made his worst mistake of the year. He was picked off by.... Coty Sensabaugh.
The Titans had a little something working, too. Instead, the Steelers got the football in the redzone. The defense stood tall again — a theme of the first half — holding Pittsburgh to just three points.
Mike Mularkey stayed conservative when he got the ball back with under two minutes to play in the half, punting the ball back to the Steelers. Pittsburgh hit a big play to Antonio Brown and were able to add a field goal before halftime.
Pittsburgh led 16-7 at the break.
Terry Robiskie went right back to Mariota to open the third quarter. A huge 75 yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews flipped the script real quick. However the Steelers answered with a masterful drive of their own to retake control.
The Titans went right back to work. Mariota got hot, hitting chunk plays to get into scoring position again. He appeared to have an easy touchdown to Walker, but Delanie dropped it. He was wide open the endzone. The Titans settled for a field goal, taking the score to 23-17.
Pittsburgh stayed hot, too. Roethlisberger was dealing, all of the sudden. He hit short passes all the way down the field on the following drive, eventually finding Jesse James to extend the lead to 13.
Tennessee went three and out to follow that, giving it right back to a hot Steelers’ offense. They went right down the field again, taking advantage of a worn out defense. It was Antonio Brown again — catching a touchdown with his helmet — to put this one away.
It was 37-17 Pittsburgh at that point. That would pretty much do it.
This was a game that was always going to be a tough win. The bottomline here is that the Titans just made too many mistakes. From the four picks from Mariota to the dropped Delanie Walker touchdown. It just wasn’t the Titans’ night. They’ve played sloppy through all of these wins, but tonight it finally bit them.
The good news here is that the Titans have a cakewalk of a schedule from here on out. But these consistent mistakes have to get cleaned up in a hurry.