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Steelers at 3-2 after 38-17 win

Posted Oct 9, 2011

STEELERS 38, TITANS 17

Steelers’ record: 3-2
One year ago: 4-1
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 44-30

STORYLINE
Mike Tomlin assessed his team as it began preparing for this game against the Titans. “I think they are hacked off and they should be. We haven’t performed close enough to what we expect. We’ve lost games because of it, specifically we lost last week (to the Houston Texans). We look forward to preparing and playing this week in front of our home fans, and hopefully righting this thing.”

TURNING POINT
On the game’s opening possession, the Titans had a first-and-goal at the Steelers’ 7-yard line when LaMarr Woodley broke through to sack Matt Hasselbeck for a 5-yard loss. The Titans ended up having to settle for a field goal, and the Steelers would score four touchdowns to take a 28-3 lead before Tennessee managed another score.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT
In their history, the Steelers have had three different quarterbacks throw five touchdown passes in a game – Terry Bradshaw, Mark Malone and Ben Roethlisberger. After last Sunday’s game, Roethlisberger is the only one to do it twice.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
* The Other Team Has Coaches, Too, Dept.: The Titans moved the ball smartly down the field on their opening possession to a first-and-goal at the Steelers 4-yard line – 76 yards in eight plays – but then Tennessee offensive coordinator Chris Palmer got “creative.” After sending tackle Mike Otto into the game as an eligible receiver/extra blocker, the Titans faked a handoff to Chris Johnson and Matt Hasselbeck threw the ball to Otto, who is 6-foot-5, 310 pounds. The pass was one that would have required an athletic play beyond Otto’s abilities, and that set off a sequence of events ending with the Titans having to settle for a 29-yard field goal.

* The Titans had the game’s early momentum after their game-opening 69-yard drive to a field goal, but Antonio Brown helped the Steelers regain the psychological edge and kept the 63,875 at Heinz Field involved when he returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to midfield. Later on the drive, Brown added a 17-yard catch that put the ball at the Tennessee 8-yard line and set up Ben Roethlisberger’s touchdown pass to Heath Miller to give the Steelers a 7-3 lead.

* His first pass completion in the NFL came in 2007, a 32-yard play to Najeh Davenport on a fake punt on Dec. 20 against the Rams in St. Louis. Daniel Sepulveda’s second completion came early in the second quarter last Sunday against the Titans. This time the pass went to Ryan Mundy, on a fourth-and-5 at midfield, and it was good for a 33-yard gain to the Tennessee 17-yard line. Two plays after this successful fake punt, Roethlisberger passed to Hines Ward for the touchdown that gave the Steelers a 14-3 lead.

* Chris Johnson had 30 yards on five carries on Tennessee’s first offensive possession; on the other four possessions in the first half he had five carries for 12 yards. The Titans had 11 offensive possessions in the game, and so Johnson gained 21 yards on nine carries (2.3 average) after the game’s first series.

* On Tennessee's first offensive play following the recovery of Rob Bironas’ onside kick in the third quarter, Brett Keisel batted Matt Hassebeck’s pass into the air, and LaMarr Woodley came down with the ball for the Steelers’ first interception of the season.

* On a fourth-and-5 from the Steelers 40-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, Matt Hasselbeck had WR Marc Mariani in a man-to-man situation with Keenan Lewis. Hasselbeck went that way, but Lewis broke up the pass and the Steelers took over on downs with 7:28 remaining.

WHAT WENT WRONG
* When the offense is flagged for a false start, play is supposed to stop, but that’s not the way it was being called in the first quarter. On a play in which the Titans were flagged for a false start, play was allowed to continue long enough for Ryan Clark to get flagged for unnecessary roughness after a hit out of bounds. The false start penalty was negated as was the gain on the play, but the Titans still got the 15 yards for Clark’s penalty.

* It was late in the first half and the Steelers were looking to add to their 21-3 lead. It was a third-and-4 from the Tennessee 27-yard line, and there were 12 seconds left and the Steelers had one timeout left. The call from the sideline was for a spike, but Ben Roethlisberger tried to throw a quick screen to the right, where wide receivers Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders were lined up in a bunch. None of them made a move for the ball, and Cortland Finnegan intercepted.

* On the kickoff following Chris Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run that made it 28-10, the Titans attempted an onside kick, and it was recovered by Alterraun Verner at the Steelers 45-yard line. On the play, Arnaz Battle went up to try to grab the high hop but he was separated from the ball by a hit from Fernando Velasco, which allowed Verner the chance to cover the loose ball.

* Seemingly in control, the Steelers lined up to punt from their own 42-yard line with a 31-10 lead. But after a false start penalty on Larry Foote moved the line of scrimmage back to the 37-yard line, Tim Shaw broke through to block Daniel Sepulveda’s punt. Cortland Finnegan recovered and ran the ball into the end zone, but an illegal block penalty nullified the score and after the 10 yards was assessed the Titans took possession at Pittsburgh’s 37-yard line.

INJURY UPDATE
Said Coach Mike Tomlin, “From an injury standpoint, we had a number of in-game injuries, which were insignificant. I think those guys are going to be able to come back. I don’t think this will inhibit them from participating this week. That group includes James Farrior with a shoulder injury; Heath Miller with a shoulder injury; Maurkice Pouncey with a right knee injury, he’s fine; Hines Ward has a chest injury but he’s fine; and Isaac Redman had leg cramps. There was only one injury worth mentioning that we will look at moving forward and that’s Marcus Gilbert. We will keep an eye on him and see where he is.”

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