The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2) and Tennessee Titans (6-3) went head-to-head in Week 11 at Heinz Field on Thursday Night Football, and these two teams both had a lot on the line. Both teams winners of their last four games, the AFC Playoff standings certainly would be impacted with the outcome of this contest.
Getting off to an early start was paramount for both teams, and the Steelers’ offense chose to receive the football to start the game, and it didn’t take them long to make a statement. Utilizing the no-huddle offense, Ben Roethlisberger hit a multitude of receivers before hitting Antonio Brown for a touchdown to give the Steelers an early 7-0 lead.
On Tennessee’s first possession, it was Marcus Mariota who made the first mistake of the game, throwing an interception to Mike Hilton on third down, but the Titans’ defense was able to hold the Steelers to a Chris Boswell field goal to extend their lead 10-0 in the first quarter.
Tennessee answered the Steelers’ fast start with a nice touchdown drive of their own, orchestrated by Marcus Mariota hitting a wide array of receivers on third down, and capping it off with a nifty touchdown run to make the score 10-7 nearing the end of the first quarter.
The Titans took the second quarter moving the ball with ease, but after a Cameron Heyward sack, it forced Tennessee into a 48-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop. But the kick was blocked by T.J. Watt, giving Pittsburgh their best starting field position of the game.
The Steelers did nothing with the turnover, and their next three offensive possessions, but within 5-minutes left in the half, Mariota was picked off for the second time, this time by Coty Sensabaugh, which set up the Steelers just outside the Tennessee red-zone.
Despite the field position, the Steelers settled for another Boswell field goal to give them a 13-7 lead, and this was a huge win for the Tennessee defense to hold the Pittsburgh offense to six points off the two first half turnovers.
After the Pittsburgh defense was able to get a quick three-and-out, Roethlisberger and company were able to move the ball into field goal range, and Boswell’s 50-yard field goal gave Pittsburgh a 16-7 lead heading into halftime.
The Titans received the kickoff to start the second half, and the first play from scrimmage was a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Rishard Mathews to make the score 16-14 before most fans even got back to their seats.
With their first possession of the second half, Pittsburgh answered the Titans’ score with a touchdown drive of their own. After huge catches by JuJu Smith-Schuster and Le’Veon Bell, Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for his second touchdown reception of the game, giving the Steelers a 23-14 lead.
Mariota continued to work his magic every time he touched the football, and his favorite target, Delanie Walker, moved the Titans into the Pittsburgh red-zone with a 42-yard reception, but Walker let down his quarterback after dropping an easy touchdown. Mariota was sacked on the next play, forcing a Ryan Succop field goal to make the score 23-17.
Pittsburgh utilized their no-huddle offense on their next drive, and Ben Roethlisberger was dialed in. Great throws to Smith-Schuster, Brown and Jesse James moved Pittsburgh in the red-zone, but it looked as if it was a run which hit pay dirt for Pittsburgh as Le’Veon Bell scored his first touchdown of the game, but after review it was deemed Bell did not cross the goal line before his shin hit the ground. On third-and-goal Roethlisberger hit Jesse James with this third touchdown of the game, and giving the Steelers a 30-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After the Pittsburgh defense forced a three-and-out, it was more of the Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown show. A huge conversion to Brown early in the drive set up one of the best catches of the year with Brown pinning the football against this helmet for his third touchdown of the game, and extended the Pittsburgh lead 37-17.
After Mariota threw his third interception, this time to Robert Golden, the Pittsburgh offense took over again and extended their lead with a Chris Boswell field goal, extending the lead 40-17 late in the fourth quarter.
Mariota would throw his fourth interception to Sean Davis, and Landry Jones and James Conner were able to get some repetitions in garbage time in prime time. However, after all was said and done, the final score was 40-17 in favor of the home team.
The victory moves the Steelers’ record to 8-2, and not only keeps them in the lead in the AFC North, but in the entire AFC. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news on the Steelers heading into Week 12, and beyond.