Postgame Takes

Steelers dominate in 40-17 win over Titans

The Steelers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, defeating the Titans, 40-17, at Heinz Field. The win, the team's most complete win of the season, improved the Steelers record to 8-2, and puts them in the driver’s seat in the AFC with a full slate of Week 11 games still to be played.

Game action photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 11 game against the Tennessee Titans

The Steelers had just 130 yards on offense in the first half, but exploded in the second half. Ben Roethlisberger completed 30 passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns, and was 20 of 23 in the second half. Antonio Brown had 10 receptions for 144 yards and had three touchdown receptions, joining John Stallworth as the only two players in Steelers’ history to score three touchdowns in two separate games.

The defense came up with the splash plays Coach Mike Tomlin has been preaching about, with four interceptions, despite injuries to two starters in the secondary. They also sacked Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota five times.

“Guys made necessary plays,” said Tomlin. “It’s great to be in the clubhouse early for the weekend with the necessary win for the week. I thought we answered the bell tonight. It really got better as the game wore on. I liked the fight in the guys. They stayed together, made plays really in all three phases. Produced turnovers, took advantage of the turnovers, took care of the ball on the other side. All the necessary things that developing teams need to do. Hopefully it’s a catalyst for us as we move forward.”

The offense came out on fire, marching down the field on their opening drive with ease. Ben Roethlisberger completed four of five passes for 71 yards, with Antonio Brown pulling in three receptions for 60 yards. The Steelers scored on a ‘free play,’ when the Titans jumped offsides and Roethlisberger went deep to Brown for a 41-yard touchdown, taking a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

It wasn’t just the offense that came out on fire. The defense swarmed the Titans on their opening drive, giving them nowhere to run on their first two plays. On third-and-eight Mike Hilton intercepted Marcus Mariota’s first pass attempt of the night, returning it 26 yards to the Titans 24-yard line.

While the offense couldn’t be stopped on their opening drive, they struggled to move the ball on the ensuing drive. But they still took advantage of the turnover, with Chris Boswell’s 41-yard field goal extending the lead to 10-0.

The Titans got a spark on special teams with a 36-yard kickoff return to the 32-yard line. It looked like the defense had them stopped on third down, but the Titans were penalized for delay of game. The second chance allowed them to convert when Mariota hit Rishard Matthews for an eight-yard gain. The Titans capitalized when Mariota took it himself for a seven-yard touchdown run, closing the gap to 10-7.

After a three-and-out by the Steelers, the Titans offense continued to roll. Mariota moved them to the Steelers 30-yard line, setting them up for a Ryan Succop field goal. T.J. Watt would have no parts of it, though, and blocked the 48-yard attempt, giving the Steelers the ball at the 38-yard line. But for the third straight drive, the offense was unable to get going.

Stephon Tuitt slammed the door on the Titans next drive when he sacked Mariota for a six-yard loss, forcing the three-and-out. But again, the offense wasn’t able to get rolling.

Jordan Berry buried the Titans deep in their own territory when his 59-yard punt was downed at the four-yard line. A holding call on the Titans pushed them back half the distance to the goal line, starting the drive at the two-yard line. Derrick Henry got them out of trouble fast though, with a 16-yard run to the outside. Tuitt got hit with a 15-yard roughing the passer call, giving the Titans a first down at the 31-yard line. Another first down by penalty came when Watt was called for illegal use of the hands. While the defense gave a little, they quickly took it away. Coty Sensabaugh, starting for the injured Joe Haden, picked off Mariota and returned it 32 yards to the Titans 20-yard line.

The offense struggled again, and despite the good field position had to settle for Boswell’s second field goal of the night, a 28-yarder to extend the lead to 13-7.

The Titans used all their timeouts to give them a shot at scoring before the half, but the defense was relentless, forcing a three-and-out, and using up their timeouts to give Roethlisberger and company their own shot to put points on the board.

The Steelers took over with just 1:11 on the clock. Roethlisberger hit Brown for 17 yards to the 42-yard line. Brown fumbled, but Martavis Bryant came up with the recovery at the 32-yard line. The offense wasn’t able to go any further, though. Boswell came through with a clutch 50-yard field goal, the third of his career, to send the Steelers into the locker room at halftime ahead 16-7.

Before most people had a chance to settle back in after halftime, the Titans scored. Mariota hit Matthews in stride for a 75-yard touchdown, quickly closing the gap to 16-14.

When the offense needed to get clicking, they did just that. Roethlisberger connected with Bell for a six-yard gain, and then Bell powered for a 14-yard completion. A late hit on Roethlisberger gave the Steelers a first down by penalty, and Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for 12 yards. The Steelers hit pay dirt when Roethlisberger connected with Brown for a five-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 23-14.

The feverish third quarter continued when Mariota hit Delaine Walker for a 42-yard gain to the 28-yard line on the Titans next drive. The defense stepped up a bit, though. Heyward recorded his second sack of the night, knocking Mariota for a 15-yard loss. The Titans had to settle for a 44-yard Succop field goal, cutting the lead to 23-17. 

Once again, the Steelers answered the second half scoring. Roethlisberger moved the ball hitting Bryant for 20 yards, Smith-Schuster for 18, and Bell for nine. It looked like the Steelers got in the end zone on a run by Bell, but he was called down at the one-yard line. On the next play Roethlisberger hit Jesse James for a one-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 30-17.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, the offense marched right back down the field. Brown set them up with good field position on a 16-yard punt return to the Steelers 49-yard line. Brown pulled in a 23-yard reception, and a defensive pass interference gave them another first down at the 15-yard line. Brown pulled in his third touchdown of the game, on an incredible five-yard catch where he pinned the ball against his helmet on the score, and the 37-17 lead.

Things kept going in the Steelers favor when Robert Golden intercepted Mariota at the 49-yard line. The Steelers made it count with a 26-yard Boswell field goal, giving them a commanding 40-17 lead.

Sean Davis sealed the win with an interception with 2:22 to play, and all the Steelers had to do was run out the clock.

A look at how they scored:

First Quarter: Steelers 7, Titans 0
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 41-yard pass to Antonio Brown.
Scoring Summary: 6-75-2:35

First Quarter: Steelers 10, Titans 0
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 41-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 5-1-1:46

First Quarter: Steelers 10, Titans 7
Scoring Play: Marcus Mariota seven-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Summary: 11-68-6:36

Second Quarter: Steelers 13, Titans 7
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 28-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 7-10-1:34

Third Quarter: Steelers 16, Titans 14
Scoring Play: Marcus Mariota 75-yard pass to Rishard Matthews.
Scoring Summary: 1-75-0:11

Third Quarter: Steelers 23, Titans 14
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger five-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.
Scoring Summary: 10-75-4:48

Third Quarter: Steelers 23, Titans 17
Scoring Play: Ryan Succop 44-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 8-49-4:27

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 30, Titans 17
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger one-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James.  
Scoring Summary:  12-75-5:38

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 37, Titans 17
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 10-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.
Scoring Summary: 3-51-1:27

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 40, Titans 17
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 26-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 10-44-6:18

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