ON STEELERS 27-24 WIN OVER TITANS
The Pittsburgh Steelers performance in Monday night’s 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans was who the Pittsburgh Steelers are.
You never know what you’re going to see from them series to series and most games you get the good, bad and the ugly.
The Steelers jumped on the Titans early with a 10-0 lead just 4:23 into the first quarter, highlighted by William Gay’s pick-6 on the Titans first passing play of the game by rookie Zach Mettenberger.
Game over right…. against a bad football team with a rookie quarterback?…..Not so fast
The Titans would come right back and go 5 plays, 67 yards, capped off by a 9 yard touchdown run by Bishop Sankey to cut the Steelers lead to 10-7.
The Steelers inability to put the Titans out when they had them down early, came back to haunt them as Jason McCourty picked off a Ben Roethlisberger pass intended for Antonio Brown in the end zone with 44 seconds left in the first half.
It was a huge swing in the game as Zach Mettenberger with 32 seconds left in the half threw an 80 yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington, who beat William Gay with a studder-step and put the Titans up 17-13 at the half.
Tennessee would then go up by 11 mid-way through the 3rd quarter as the Titans went 11 plays, 77 yards on their second drive of the quarter with Mettenberger throwing a 4 yard touchdown pass to Chase Coffman with Antwon Blake in coverage to push the Titans lead to 24-13 lead.
What happened next is the Titans offense would only run seven more plays the rest of the game, following the Coffman touchdown.
After the Titans went up 24-13 on the Coffman TD reception, Pittsburgh took the ball over with 3:42 left in the third quarter and trailing by 11. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times in the game, including three times in the second quarter and the Steelers went from having no answers in containing the Titans aggressive blitzing schemes to suddenly realizing that they could exploit the Titans run defense.
The Steelers faced with a 3rd and 3 at their own 35, saw a four yard Ben Roethlisberger scramble for a first down really give the Steelers some life and from there Le’Veon Bell took the game over. Bell rushed for 51 yards on 5 carries, capping an 8 play, 72 yard scoring drive with a 5 yard touchdown run, his first (rushing TD) since week 1, to cut the Titans lead to four.
After the Steelers defense forced a three and out on the Titans next drive, Pittsburgh went 8 plays, 65 yards with Ben Roethlisberger connecting with Antonio Brown for a 12 yard touchdown to put the Steelers ahead 27-24.
Roethlisberger did not play well throwing for 207 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception, but made some key completions down the stretch and his four yard scramble might have been the most important play of the game for Steelers. The Steelers don’t get that first down, who knows if things play out like they did.
A key moment in the game was only minutes after the Brown TD. Trailing by three, the Titans faced with a 4th and 4 at the Steelers 48, decided to punt with just over seven minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and Ken Whisenhunt counting on his defense to get the ball back was a bad idea as the Steelers ran the clock out with Le’Veon Bell rushing for 49 yards on the drive and the Steelers taking up all 6:58 remaining on the clock to ice the game.
Bell had a career night rushing for 204 yards and rushed for 120 yards over his final 16 carries of the game as the Steelers pounded out a come from behind victory. Pittsburgh controlled the clock for 39:49 in the game and for big chunks down the stretch, controlling the ball for 14:08 of the final 18 minutes of the game.
As concerning as their play was for two and half quarters, they found a way in a game they would have lost last season. That’s the positive to take away against a bad opponent.
Pittsburgh heads into the bye at 7-4 and whether they can develop some consistency will dictate whether they return to the post-season for the time since 2011. It’s easy to see the Steelers going 3-2 the rest of the way but it’s also easy to see them implode and lose four of their remaining five games.
The lack of consistency from this group makes it likely that the final five games won’t be smooth sailing for them and there will be ups and downs with a lot of drama on the field.