By Teresa Varley
There are no easy games in the NFL but starting off against the Tennessee Titans is definitely a big challenge. The Titans finished last season with the NFL's best regular season record at 13-3, including defeating the Steelers 31-14 in Tennessee.
"I like a challenge," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "I don't want to come out and play the easiest team in the NFL. I like this challenge because they are a great football team and we owe them one.
"They put it on us pretty good (last year). They are a good football team, very physical. We turned the ball over a couple of times last time. A lot has to do with them, good pressure, good players. We have to look at it and see if we can exploit the pressure that they bring."
Roethlisberger threw two interceptions against the Titans in that December meeting last year and knows it won't be any easier this time around as the Titans secondary is very opportunistic.
"They have a top shelf secondary," said Roethlisberger. "You have some guys, not just the cornerback position, but safety that just are phenomenal players. You think of cornerbacks as guys that just cover and don't hit, well these guys do it all. Obviously, the safeties don't mind sticking their nose in and making plays in the backfield, but can also cover. If you ask me, it is a pretty elite defense."
And it will be the perfect test for Roethlisberger and the offense.
"It's a pretty good opponent coming in. it's going to be a big challenge for us, especially offensively," said Roethlisberger. "Last year we faced a lot of great defenses and this year it starts out with a bang. They are a great defense from front to back. They have gotten a year better. They are very physical, very fast."
The excitement for Thursday's opener against the Tennessee Titans has been building in Pittsburgh since the schedule was announced, but it has reached a fever pitch now that it's just a few days away.
"It's Pittsburgh, Pa. and it's football season so it's that buzz in the air," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "It's an added bonus that we get to do it on Thursday night in primetime with all the things that come with the kickoff game. It's a good vibe, it's a good feeling and it's an exciting thing to be a part of."
And while the talk among fans is all about the Steelers repeating as Super Bowl champions, the players and coaches want to simply take it one game at a time as there is a long season ahead.
"Our ultimate goal is to try and win the Super Bowl. That is everyone's goal going into it," said Roethlisberger. "We can't look that far in advance. That is what gets people in trouble and probably got us in trouble the first time around. Right now its one game at a time and our first game is a doozy and everyone is excited for it."