Likes and Dislikes: Steelers vs. Titans

And then there was one…

Going into Monday night’s game, there were 2 NFL teams Ben Roethlisberger had not defeated: the Raiders and the Titans.

One of those teams is off the bucket list, but it almost didn’t end up that way. The Steelers quickly went up 10-0 in Tennessee, but found themselves down at half after a 17 point swing in the other direction.

On the Titans 17 with less than a minute remaining in the half, Roethlisberger threw an ill-timed interception, which then lead to the Titans’ single play, 80 yard touchdown to close out the quarter. But it didn’t have to be that way: plays earlier, Ben missed a wide-open Martavis Bryant, with a late, under-thrown pass. Instead of going up 20-10 heading to the lockers, the Steelers were now down 17-13.

It would get worse before it would get better. The Titans returned from their lockers at half, capping a 24 unanswered points as the Steelers searched for answers. Up to this point in the game, Big Ben had been sacked 5 times and the Steelers couldn’t get any pressure on Titans QB Zach Mettenberger.

The outcome looked bleak, but there was still a lot of football to play.

Someone, somewhere, deserves credit for abandoning the strict passing game the Steelers tried to force. Instead of tossing the rock around the field, as most teams needing 2 touchdowns would be compelled to do in the latter stages of the game, Pittsburgh instead took a page out of the Jets playbook from a week before, and hooked their harness to the “Belldozer.”

Following the last time Ben was sacked in the game, Le’Veon Bell tallied 129 all purpose yards and a touchdown, as the Steelers not only found their two touchdowns, but held the ball for the final 7 minutes of the game.

Kudos goes to a team who stayed composed on both sides of the ball, in the face of adversity. The offense did not panic and found their groove. The ball found it’s way to a number of Steelers including Antonio Brown, Lance Moore and Heath Miller, while the Titans failed to stop Pittsburgh’s ground attack.

The defense, which still ended up with no sacks, stopped the Titans offense, which compiled a total of 20 yards of offense in the 4th quarter.

The last quarter and a half looked like the Steelers we have come to love in 2014, and shine a bright light going forward, as the team enters their bye week. When the Steelers return at home on November 30th to face the New Orleans Saints, they will likely do so with five defensive starters returning:

  • NT Steve McLendon
  • LB Ryan Shazier
  • LB Jarvis Jones
  • CB Ike Taylor
  • SS Troy Polamalu

The timing couldn’t be better, as the Steelers are a half game behind the Bengals for AFC North supremacy, and will face them twice in the following weeks to end the season.

For the time being, the Steelers can enjoy this victory, and use the extra time off to lick their wounds and reload for what will be the games which decide their fate this season.

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