7 Steelers surprises in Thursday’s win against the Titans

Each week our SCU staff and contributors picks the “surprises” from the Pittsburgh Steelers latest matchup. Check out more below to see which plays and situations surprised us the most!

On Thursday Night Football the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Tennessee Titans for their Week 9 matchup at Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers improved to a 5-3 record with a 20-16 victory. Here are some of the surprises from that game.

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Four Redzone Trips

This week’s win will definitely highlight a lot of Steelers offense, because that’s something that has been severely lacking in previous games all season!

The Steelers made four trips to the redzone on Thursday, each with drives that were at least ten plays or more.

The two longest drives (83 and 94 yards) ends in touchdowns with the other two finishing with field goals.

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Broderick Jones: Right Tackle?

The Steelers inserted rookie Broderick Jones into the starting lineup for Thursday’s game but didn’t play him where he was drafted to play. Instead, Mike Tomlin and his staff opted to play the Georgia left tackle over on the right side of the offensive line, benching starter Chukwuma Okorafor.

The results were tremendous in more ways than one, including the Steelers giving up zero sacks to their opposition.

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Running Back Room

The Steelers punished the Titans on the ground in this game, gaining 50 more yards rushing than they did in any other game thus far this season.

Jaylen Warren led all rushers with 11 carries for 88 yards (8.0 YPC) while Najee Harris added 16 carries for 69 yards (4.3 YPC). Both are season highs for each player.

The total combined output, along with Calvin Austin’s 10 yards would be 166 rushing yards in this game.

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Pickens’ Plight

After putting up 11 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown in his two games before last week, Steelers second-year WR George Pickens dipped to one reception for 22 yards (on a touchdown from QB Mitchell Trubisky) and two catches for minus-one yard against the Titans.

Pickens had an opportunity to add to these totals in each of the last two games but failed to keep his feet in bounds for big catches, including a would-be touchdown against Tennessee.

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Diontae’s Touchdown

Speaking of touchdowns, Steelers WR Diontae Johnson hadn’t caught a touchdown since Ben Roethlisberger was playing for them: exactly 665 days going back to Week 17 of the 2021 season.

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Darius Rush

A fifth round pick of the Indianapolis Colts this season, Rush was waived by his original team, claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs, and then waived again, signing to the latter’s practice squad.

The Steelers made the move on October 18th to acquire Rush, adding him to their 53-man roster.

They immediately put him to work too, as the rookie would play 30 snaps (41%) of the game against the Titans: more than veteran Chandon Sullivan (16 snaps) and only 8 fewer than Levi Wallace (38).

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Officiating… Again

Should this be a surprise? Or should this be a routine entry?

The referees showed that they still don’t know what a roughing the passer call is in the NFL, tagging T.J. Watt for a split-second clean hit around Titans rookie QB Will Levis, during Tennessee’s first possession in Thursday’s game.

That drive would be aided by three more accepted penalties (and another that was declined) in route to a Titan’s field goal.

With the game seemingly over on 4th-and-7 with 53 seconds remaining in the game, the zebras would strike again, extending the Titan’s drive with a non-existent defensive pass interference call against Joey Porter Jr.

While the previous Sunday’s officiating crew was thought to be the worst the Steelers had all season, this group said “hold my beer” with inconsistent calls that often extended drives in critical moments for Pittsburgh’s opponent. The Steelers would finish the day being flagged ten times for 80 total penalty yards, and giving the Titans six first downs via penalty.

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