In a matchup that featured two of the NFL’s three remaining unbeatens, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers that came out looking like the superior team against the Tennessee Titans — at least early on.
Ben Roethlisberger was efficient to kick things off, spreading the ball around and walking down the field to start the game. The Steelers were dominant in the first quarter, playing keep away and cashing in with two touchdowns.
Roethlisberger took advantage of Tennessee’s biggest weakness — third down defense — starting off 7-7 on third down attempts through two drives.
Down 14-0 after only running three plays, it was Ryan Tannehill’s turn to respond. Finally, the offense got rolling. Derrick Henry kickstarted things, then A.J. Brown and Adam Humphries added chunk plays. Corey Davis marked his return to the field by scoring the first touchdown of the day for the Titans.
However, that’s where the good news ended for the Titans in the first half.
After adding a field goal, Roethlisberger came back and found Johnson for another touchdown. The Titans then botched a punt just before halftime, handing the ball back to Roethlisberger in scoring range, but Tennessee fortunately came away with an interception to close the half.
It was a 24-7 lead for Pittsburgh, who held the ball for 20 minutes in the first half. A three and out and a Steelers field goal to follow took us to 27-7 to open the third quarter.
Finally, A.J. Brown woke the offense up. A simple crosser route ended up going 73 yards to the house, bring the Titans back to within two scores.
A tipped ball off the hands of Jeffery Simmons fell into Jayon Brown’s arms two drives later, but the offense couldn’t do anything with it. The turnover still netted a field goal, making it a ten point game.
After getting beat up in the first half, the defense finally came through with consecutive stops — and the offense responded. Tannehill and Henry worked the ball to the goal line, and Henry finally punched it through.
So after being down 27-7, the Titans fought to bring us all the way back to a 27-24 score.
Roethlisberger, who wasn’t able to get anything done in the second half, settled in a put a drive together right when the Steelers needed it the most. It looked like we went right back into the first quarter, with Ben converting third down after third down on his way to the redzone.
And that’s where Ben blinked. Roethlisberger threw into triple coverage and was picked off in the endzone by Amani Hooker, ending their 16 play drive with zero points. Tannehill got the ball back down three points with just over two minutes to play.
Tannehill quickly went to work, finding Brown and Jonnu Smith to get to midfield before the two-minute warning. Faced with a third down, Tannehill delivered a strike to A.J. Brown. That got the Titans to the Pittsburgh 25 with under one minute to play. However, an intentional grounding penalty stopped the drive in its tracks.
Now 4th and 13, Stephen Gostkowski was called upon kick a 46 yarder for the tie — which he missed.
The Titans would fall to the Steelers, 27-24 in another thriller. Pittsburgh moves to 6-0 while Tennessee falls to 5-1. The Titans waited a little too long to get the offense going today, which ultimately did them in. But you’ve got to love the fight in this team.
The Titans are back in action next week on the road against the Bengals.