If you were looking for confidence heading into the regular season, I hope you skipped this game tonight. It was a humid, rainy night in Nashville — a night that didn’t reveal much about the Titans’ offense.
But the most important thing? The Titans left this one with no major injuries.
The Steelers brought out their first team offense to kick things off at Nissan Stadium. Ben Roethlisberger got the start, utilizing the quick passing game early in rainy conditions. He found Donte Moncrief for a first down, but a couple of blitzes from Dean Pees’ defense shut things down on the next set of downs. After six plays, the Titans forced a punt.
Marcus Mariota took the field next, immediately looking deep for Corey Davis. Mariota just barely overshot Davis on what would have been a chunk play to get things rolling. Adam Humphries dropped a screen pass that was actually set up nicely on the following play, setting up a 3rd and 10. Arthur Smith kept it conservative, drawing up a draw play that got stuffed, forcing a punt.
James Conner got Pittsburgh back to mid-field on the next drive, making Adoree Jackson miss in the open field to gain 20 yards. A couple of short passes from Roethlisberger weren’t able to move the sticks, however. Pittsburgh punted, pinning the Titans inside their own five yard line.
The second drive for Tennessee didn’t go any better than the first. Rookie receiver A.J. Brown was lit up over the middle, dropping a ball that would have gone for ten yards. Mariota was sacked on the following play for a safety, putting the Steelers on the board 2-0. Rodger Saffold and Ben Jones got tangled up on a stunt from Pittsburgh up front, giving Stephon Tuitt and easy sack for two points.
That was it for the first team Tennessee defense, which saw plenty of backups enter the game on the third drive for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh kept their starters in, carving up the Tennessee defense for six. It was JuJu Smith-Schuster capping the drive with a 17 yard touchdown reception. Smith Schuster beat LeShaun Sims for the score.
Mariota’s day would end with that sack in the endzone. He finished with an 0-3 stat line as the rain picked up in the middle of the first quarter. Ryan Tannehill entered the game, getting a couple of drives with the first team. This seemed like more of an indictment on the offensive line than anything.
Tannehill’s first drive went three and out — ending with another sack. The main take from the first team offense tonight? The offensive line was bad — really bad. Dennis Kelly was whipped on Tannehill’s third down pass attempt, ending the play before it even began.
The Titans surrendered four first half sacks tonight.
Tannehill’s second series got off to a positive start with a short completion to Adam Humphries. He was able to find Corey Davis off play action to move the sticks on a 25 yard pick up. That ended the first quarter, which saw the second team offensive line enter the game. The drive stalled from there, but Ryan Succop was able to add three points to the cause.
- Kenneth Durden was torched by James Washington for a long score from Mason Rudolph.
- Darius Jennings had a nice kick return in the first quarter, getting the ball across the 50 yard line.
- Amani Hooker picked off Rudolph on a bad miscommunication.
- Rookie receiver A.J. Brown got plenty of work tonight. His first catch was called back due to a penalty, but he got on the board a few reps later with a short grab. He ended up fumbling after the catch, but was able to fall on it and recover.
- Jeremy McNichols got off to a rough start, going down with an early injury. But he rebounded, returning to the game and bringing some juice to the offense as he has all preseason. He ended nine carries for 48 yards.
- Mike Vrabel at halftime to NBC on Marcus Mariota: “Don’t say he struggled. We couldn’t protect him.”
- Taywan Taylor didn’t see consistent playing time until the third quarter. He made a couple of catches for short gains, but it was interesting to see him so far down in the pecking order.
- Ryan Succop went 2-2 on field goal attempts.
Pittsburgh went on to win this one 18-6. The Titans will wrap up their preseason on Thursday night against the Chicago Bears.