TITANS 26, STEELERS 23
Steelers' record: 2-3
One year ago: 3-2
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 44-31
In the Wednesday edition of The Tennessean, a story on the front page of the sports section examined the issue of whether the Titans are the worst team in the NFL. The writer identified the bottom five teams as the Browns, Titans, Jaguars, Chiefs, and Raiders. The Steelers lost in Oakland just three weeks ago, and so the recipe for disaster should still be fresh in their memories.
BEN BETTERS BRADSHAW'S CAREER YARDAGE
He came into the game with 27,690 career passing yards, which meant Ben Roethlisberger needed 287 yards passing to pass Terry Bradshaw for first place on the franchise's all-time list in that category. He moved into the top spot with a 17-yard pass to Heath Miller that converted a third-and-10 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Roethlisberger now has 28,066 career passing yards. And counting.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
On his first catch of the game, Isaac Redman made it a career-long 37 yards with some tough running after the reception. On his second catch of the game, Redman set a new career long with a 55-yarder that also included a nice bit of running after the reception. With four catches for 105 yards, Redman became the first Steelers running back to have a 100-yard game receiving since Frenchy Fuqua had four catches for 116 yards against Cleveland on Nov. 29, 1970.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* Looking at it on the surface – the Titans took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards in nine plays to take a quick 3-0 lead – there wasn't much positive about the defense's first series of the game. But after a pass interference penalty on Ike Taylor gave the Titans a first down at the 3-yard line, James Harrison sacked Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans ended up settling for a 22-yard field goal by Rob Bironas that kissed off the upright.
- On his 33-yard catch-and-run that converted a third down on the Steelers' first quarter field goal drive, Isaac Redman gained an addition 12 yards after the Titans seemingly had him stopped.
- The 82-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace was the 12th time the two have hooked up on a scoring play of at least 40 yards. Wallace has 14 such touchdowns in his career, with the other two coming on passes from Charlie Batch.
- Rashard Mendenhall took a swing pass for an 11-yard gain and a first down in the second quarter primarily because Jerricho Cotchery cut a Titans defender to clear a path.
- It was third-and-3 for the Titans on the play before the two-minute warning in the first half. Matt Hasselbeck threw a quick pass to WR Damian Williams, but Cortez Allen came up to make a quick tackle 1 yard short of the first down. The Titans punted.
- On the 1-yard run that was Baron Batch's first NFL touchdown and gave the Steelers a 20-16 lead early in the fourth quarter, Mike Adams made one of the key blocks. Adams had gone into the game at right tackle when Marcus Gilbert injured an ankle in the first half.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* On the Steelers first offensive snap, Marcus Gilbert was driven backward in pass protection, and he fell on the side of Maurkice Pouncey's right leg. Pouncey left the game and was replaced by Doug Legursky.
- On two of Tennessee's first 15 offensive plays, Ike Taylor was flagged for pass interference. The second was declined because the ball was caught.
- On the punt Drew Butler had blocked on the final play of the first quarter, it seemed as though the kicker took too long to get the ball away and no one got a block on Tim Shaw, who is the guy who got a hand on the ball.
- Ben Roethlisberger came into the game not having thrown an interception since the opening game in Denver, a span of 118 attempts. On his 19th attempt of the game – his final of the first half – Roethlisberger was intercepted by Jason McCourty.
- Kendall Wright caught a 15-yard pass to get the Titans into field goal range at the end of the first half, and Rob Bironas converted from 47 yards out to give Tennessee a 16-10 lead. On the completion to Wright, Keenan Lewis had a chance to make a tackle at the 36-yard line, but Wright got away and ran for 7 more yards. Those extra yards had to help Bironas.
- The Steelers came into the game tied for 13th in the NFL in red zone efficiency after having scored eight touchdowns in 15 trips for a percentage of 53.3. For the game in Tennessee, the Steelers converted one of their three trips into the red zone, which means their percentage now is down to 50 percent.
- On the 80-yard touchdown drive that tied the game, 23-23, the Steelers defense had a chance to snuff it out before it began but Keenan Lewis couldn't hold onto the interception Matt Hasselbeck tried to throw to him. Then later, on a third-and-10, Ike Taylor was flagged for holding WR Kendall Wright on a play where the pass would have gained only 3 yards had it been caught at the spot.
A RECORD PACE, IN A BAD WAY
Going into the game against the Titans, the Steelers had been penalized 37 times for 346 yards, which translated into 9.2 penalties per game for 86.5 yards per game, both league highs to this point in the season.
At that pace, the Steelers would crush their team records in both categories, with the all-time high for penalties being 122 in 1977, with the yardage record of 1,005 yards set in 2003.
It's accurate to refer both of those Steelers teams as being flawed. The 1977 edition was wracked with dissension, holdouts and walkouts, and Chuck Noll did some serious house-cleaning after it ended to rid the locker room of the misbehaving and the malcontents. The 2003 Steelers lost five straight to close the first half at 2-6 along the way to a 6-10 finish.
Against the Titans, the Steelers were penalized four times for 50 yards.