Posted on November 16, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the few teams that are considered playoff contenders just about every season. It does not matter what they look like early on or if they hit a rough patch halfway through the season. Why not? Because they always get it together by the time the playoffs roll around.
So far, this season, the Steelers haven’t looked like a contender. But if Thursday night’s win over the Tennessee Titans is any indication, they may be getting ready to roll through the competition.
The game was somewhat competitive in the first half despite Marcos Mariota’s two interceptions. Tennessee’s defense held the Steelers to a field goal after each. So, at the break, the Titans were only down 16-7.
Tennessee had been able to move the ball but saw one of their better drives killed by a turnover and another end with a blocked field goal. With the exception of Pittsburgh’s opening drive touchdown, the Titans defense had done a good job.
If they could keep it up and if the offense could stop turning over the ball, they could get back in the game.
Sure enough, on the first play of the half, Mariota connected with Rishard Matthews on a 75-yard touchdown play. Just like that, the Titans were back in the game. But one-play into the fourth quarter they were pretty much out of it.
Pittsburgh answered Mariota’s bomb with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. It ended with Antonio Brown making his second of what would be three touchdown receptions on the night. After three quarters, each team had gained 264 yards. But with their first yard of the final quarter, Ben Roethlisberger hit Jesse James with a one-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 30-17.
After his defense forced a three and out, the Steelers needed only three plays to extend the lead again. This time it was a ten-yard pass to Antonio Brown.
Mariota’s third interception would lead to the final points of the day. Chris Boswell’s 26-yard field goal made the final score 40-17. His fourth would kill Tennessee’s final drive and effectively end the game.
Antonio Brown had been relatively quiet the last few weeks, but it became clear from the start that he’d be heavily involved. He accounted for 60 yards on the team’s opening drive (most by a single player on an opening drive this season), most of it coming on the 41-yard touchdown catch.
”Anytime you play with a guy like Ben in a prime-time setting, you know the playmaking ability is going to be up,” Brown said after the game (FoxSports). ” You know the splash plays are going to be there and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
By the time his night was over he hauled in ten catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger had one of his best nights of the season completing two-thirds of his passes (30-45) for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
”Was it our best game? No,” Roethlisberger said (FoxSports).” Was it better? Yeah.”
With four interceptions, five sacks, and a blocked field goal it was Pittsburgh’s most complete game of the season. They will try to keep things rolling against the Packers next week on Sunday Night Football.
Tennessee didn’t necessarily play poorly. But they did make way too many mistakes—which the Steelers were able to exploit. If they are going to win the AFC South, they will have to play a much more efficient, error-free game.
They should have no problem getting back on track next week against the Indianapolis Colts.