The Pittsburgh Steelers took to the road for the first time in the 2019 NFL Preseason when they traveled to Tennessee to play the Titans in Week 3 on Sunday Night Football. This game is often referred to as the “final dress rehearsal” where some starters will play for almost a half before giving way to the backups to mop up the second half.
With fans waiting on the edge of their seats to see the starters for the last time before the regular season, it was Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense who won the opening coin toss and elected to start the game with the football.
Roethlisberger and company took over at the 21 yard line, and worked a lot of no huddle offense throughout the opening drive. However, after an opening play run, the Steelers went pass-happy and failed to gain a second first down on 3rd and 10, putting Jordan Berry on the field for early action.
The Steelers’ defense stood tall on their first action of the game, and after gifting Marcus Mariota and company a first down with back-to-back penalties, they forced a Tennessee punt. Berry’s punt pinned the Titans’ offense deep in their own end, and two plays later Stephon Tuitt engulfed Mariota for the safety, giving Pittsburgh an early 2-0 lead.
The Steelers then received the free kick, and, with Roethlisberger still in the game, the offense mixed some quality James Conner runs and JuJu Smith-Schuster receptions to move into the red-zone for the first time. Once there, it took Roethlisberger just one play to hit Smith-Schuster for the touchdown.
The Steelers bypassed the extra point try and went for the two-point conversion. Roethlisberger dumped the pass to Jaylen Samuels, but Samuels slipped on the wet turf and was stopped short.
After more defensive dominance by the Steelers, it was Mason Rudolph getting the backup spot in the game with 2:51 left in the opening quarter. After a nifty Jaylen Samuels run, Rudolph went over the top and hit James Washington for another touchdown.
Chris Boswell nailed the extra point kick to make the score 15-0 with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
Ryan Tannehill was able to maneuver the Titans offense down the field, but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal to get the Titans on the board, 15-3, in the early minutes of the second quarter.
After both teams exchanged punts, Rudolph sent a third down pass intended for James Washington, but the two weren’t on the same page and it resulted in an interception. However, after a Vince Williams sack on first down, the Titans were unable to even gain the yardage needed to get a first down off the turnover.
With 5:41 left in the half Rudolph remained in the game, but was ineffective for the second straight drive. Nonetheless, the Titans squandered their last possession and had to give the ball back to Pittsburgh with under a minute left to go in the half.
15-3 was the score coming out of halftime, and with the backups in on both sides of the football, it was Tuzar Skipper got a strip sack and Tyson Alualu recovered the loos ball to get the Steelers’ first takeaway, and give the offense their first possession of the second half.
Joshua Dobbs took over at quarterback for Pittsburgh, and after both teams exchanging possessions, Dobbs finally was able to move the Pittsburgh offense into Tennessee territory, but the drive stalled in the red-zone. Matthew Wright nailed the field goal to extend the Steelers’ lead 18-3 with 4:02 left in the third quarter.
Both offenses were spending more time punting the ball, rather than putting up points, until the Titans were able to move the ball into the red-zone, but, again, would have to settle for a field goal. Ryan Succop’s kick was good, making the score 18-6 with 6:33 left in regulation.
Dobbs was able to get the Steelers into the red-zone on their next possession, but an interception ended the drive, and gave the ball back to the Titans. The Steelers’ defense forced a turnover on downs and gave Dobbs, who remained in the quarterback the entire second half, the ball with prime field position.
Rather than put up more points, the Steelers elected to kneel out the clock and take the 18-6 win. The victory moved Pittsburgh’s record to 3-0 in preseason play before the preseason finale Thursday in Carolina. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers heading into that preseason game vs. the Panthers.