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Posted Nov 18, 2017

Roethlisberger rallies offense before second-half explosion.

The Steelers led the Titans at halftime but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t happy.

He let the offense know the 16-7 advantage the Steelers had achieved through the first two quarters wasn’t good enough.

And the offense responded in what became a 40-17 blowout on Thursday night at Heinz Field.

“He told us to pick it up during halftime, all of us at all positions, we needed to make plays,” offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert said. “We felt his voice. His voice was heard.

“He came right in and demanded us to pick it up. And as our leader we expect that from him, to rally everybody together. Not only us, he put it on himself but he told us just give him some time, he’ll make some plays happen.”

The Steelers scored touchdowns on their first three second-half possessions, including one at the end of a 10-play, 75-yard drive in response to the Titans having cut the Steelers’ lead to 16-14 on a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the third quarter.

“I don’t do it a lot unless I feel it’s necessary,” Roethlisberger said. “It doesn’t happen very often. I wanted to challenge all of us, and I included myself in that, felt like and told the guys, ‘The defense has done their job and more, somebody’s gotta make a play. Whether that’s a quarterback, the running backs, the wide receiver, the line, I don’t care if you’re old or young, just somebody has to step up and make a play for this team or else we’re going to keep relying on our defense. It’s time that we step up and do something.

“I love the way they all responded.”

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Roethlisberger improved to 19-3 in prime time games in the regular season at Heinz Field (6-0 on Thursday nights at home).

His four touchdown passes, 299 yards passing and 115.0 passer rating had a lot to do with that.

So did wide receiver Antonio Brown’s 10 catches, 144 receiving yards and three receiving TDs.

“It’s something special,” Brown said. “Any time you play with a guy like Ben in a prime-time setting, the play-making ability is going to be up, the splash plays are going to be there and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

OPTIONS LIMITED: The Titans only rushed 21 times for 52 yards. And the NFL’s No. 7 rushing team all but abandoned the option/misdirection game the Steelers had spent so much time talking about and preparing for prior to kickoff.

“That’s what we were expecting,” outside linebacker Bud Dupree said. “We saw that a lot. We thought it was going to happen.”

It didn’t, “Just because they saw how we were playing on the edges, probably,” Dupree continued. “We were playing for that, me and (outside linebacker) T.J. (Watt). We were playing for all the cutback runs. We tried to make sure we eliminated the scrambling.”

THREE-PHASE EFFORT: The offense scored 40 points after not having managed 30 in any of the first nine games.

The defense collected four interceptions and five sacks despite the absence of starting cornerback Joe Haden (fibula) and starting free safety Mike Mitchell (ankle).

And the special teams contributed a blocked a punt (Watt), a 16-yard punt return (Brown), downed a punt at the Tennessee 4-yard line (wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey) and tackled the Titans inside the 20-yard line on kickoff returns on three occasions.

“That’s team football right there,” defensive end Stephon Tuitt said. “Especially on a short week like this, everybody has to be involved. Everybody got a chance to put their hand on the ball. Everybody got a chance to put their hand on the quarterback. Defensively, we did a great job. Offensively, they did a fantastic job. They put 40 points up, that was awesome.”

THEY SAID IT: “At the end of the day, we can still do even better, which is crazy.” _ Tuitt.

“As a defense, we have a long way to go. We still can improve a whole lot. We have so many young guys on the defense.” _ Dupree.

“I’ve stopped getting excited or down about games. You’re just trying to look at, what can you do to clean up? Everyone’s got some plays, myself included. Let’s clean it up, what can you do better? I don’t think anyone’s satisfied at all with the game. It’s nice, it’s expected but we have a lot more potential to untap.” _ guard David DeCastro.

“It feels good. I know a lot’s been made of me not caring or whatever, some of the national media stuff, and there’s nothing further from the truth. I go out there and give it everything I have. I play as hard as I can for these guys in there and our fans and the Rooneys. It’s fun to go out and have one of these games.” _ Roethlisberger.