Xtra Points

Steelers rally to beat Titans

The Steelers and Titans have played a number of tight, hard-fought games over the years.

And Thursday night's meeting between the two former AFC Central division foes was no different.

Diontae Johnson caught his first touchdown pass in two seasons and the Steelers ran the ball better than they have all season long as they defeated the Titans, 20-16, Thursday night at Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers rushed for a season-high 166 yards and Johnson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Kenny Pickett with 4:02 remaining in the game as Pittsburgh improved to 5-3 this season. The fourth-quarter comeback was the sixth of Pickett's career and third this season.

"We needed this one, and it's good to get it, get it on a short week, and being in the clubhouse on a Thursday night with the necessary victory for the week," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

The touchdown by Johnson, his first since scoring in a playoff game at Kansas City to end the 2021 season, capped off a stellar performance in which he caught 7 passes for 90 yards on nine targets.

Johnson also had a big 32-yard catch on third-and-6 from midfield to help set up the score.

"I had a certain route, but if they were in press, I could change to a go-ball," said Johnson. "I saw the coverage and I beat him off the line and that put us in position and I was able to get in the end zone there."

Najee Harris rushed for 69 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, while Jaylen Warren had 87 yards on 11 attempts for the Steelers.

The Steelers lost inside linebacker Cole Holcomb to an undisclosed knee injury late in the first quarter while chasing wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Holcomb went down and needed a medical cart to leave the field.

"Cole Holcomb has got a serious injury," said Tomlin. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him."

The Steelers opened the game with their first touchdown on an opening possession, going 82 yards on 10 plays, with Pickett completing 5 of 7 passes for 62 yards. The drive was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown run by Najee Harris as the Steelers grabbed a 7-0 lead.

The Titans (3-5) answered on their ensuing possession to open the game – with plenty of help from the Steelers, who were penalized four times during the drive. The Titans drove 72 yards, with 40 of that coming on penalties to set up a 36-yard Nick Folk field goal that made it 7-3 with 2:48 remaining in the first quarter.

After the teams traded punts, the Titans grabbed the lead with an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 2-yard Derrick Henry touchdown run to give Tennessee a 10-7 lead.

The Steelers moved the ball inside the Tennessee 10 on their next possession, but Najee Harris was stopped for a 1-yard loss on first down from the 7, while a second-down pass to George Pickens netted just 2 yards. Pickett then threw incomplete to Allen Robinson on third-and-goal and the Steelers settled for a 29-yard Chris Boswell field goal that tied the game at 10-10 with 1:19 remaining in the half.

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 9 game against the Tennessee Titans at Acrisure Stadium

But the Titans immediately answered, as Levis directed a 57-yard field goal drive in the closing moments to set up another Folk kick from 36 yards to give Tennessee a 13-10 halftime lead.

The Steelers got a quick stop to force a punt to open the second half, then went on a lengthy drive of their own, getting a 25-yard run by Harris to get out away from the goal line.

But on third-and-3 from the Tennessee 12, Pickens couldn't get his feet down along the corner of the end zone and the Steelers were forced to settle for a 30-yard Boswell field goal that tied the game at 13-13 just past the midway point of the third quarter.

The Steelers appeared to have a defensive stop on Tennessee's next possession, but Patrick Peterson was penalized for illegal contact on and third-and-5 incompletion and the Titans maneuvered into scoring range again, this time getting a 48-yard field goal from Folk to take a 16-13 lead at the end of the third quarter.

After Johnson's go-ahead score, the Titans got the ball at their own 46 after rookie Broderick Jones, who started the game at right tackle in place of Chuks Okorafor, drew an unsportsmanlike penalty on the point after kick.

But Patrick Peterson stuffed running back Tyjae Spears for no gain on a third-down run and Levis' fourth-down pass attempt to Treylon Burks down the sideline was defended by Levi Wallace and the Steelers took over on downs with 2:06 remaining in the game.

Burks, whose head slammed to the turf as he fell out of bounds, was injured on the play and needed a medical cart to leave the field.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said Burks is being evaluated.

"I would say that the way it looked probably better than how it looked," Vrabel said. "So he's alert and in the training room being evaluated."

Kwon Alexander had an interception late against Levis, who threw for 262 yards in his second career start, to seal the win.

Alex Highsmith had two sacks for the Steelers, who had four as a team. Cam Heyward had six tackles, including one for a loss, in his return to the lineup after missing the past six games.