The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious in Week 7 when they handed the Tennessee Titans their first loss of the season in a 27-24 thriller. However, the vibe between these two teams certainly was different following the game.
The Steelers were left shaking their heads after the team almost blew a 24-7 lead, and only scored 3 points in the second half, but the Titans are sporting some new confidence after they almost pulled off an improbable comeback against one of the best teams in the NFL at home.
While the Titans players were confident, head coach Mike Vrabel wasn’t about to hang his hat on a moral victory.
“We weren’t very good in all three phases – we just had too many mistakes,” Titans Coach Mike Vrabel told TennesseeTitans.com. “It was uncharacteristic of our team in all three phases. This was clearly the best team we’ve played to this point, and if we didn’t play our best we were going to lose.”
On the other hand, the players were pleased with the way they battled, some even suggesting they will be better off for losing their latest game, compared to the alternative.
“We were a play away,” wide receiver A.J. Brown said. “In this league you just have to keep playing and keep fighting. (The Steelers) are really good, we’re good. It’s the details that show up. I think we’re close. We have to clean up some stuff, but it early in the year. … Today, we fell short, but … I think we’re OK. We’re going to clean up the details and keep moving forward.
“I think this loss kind of helped us, to be honest. When you are winning, you sweep a lot of stuff under the rug. Some things go unnoticed because you are winning. We just have to play better the whole game and be more consistent.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill acknowledges how the loss is certainly tough to stomach, but also sees a lot of promise in the way the offense fought their way back, taking advantage of the mistakes the Steelers made.
“It’s a gut punch,” Tannehill said. “Obviously we didn’t play well early in the game, but we battled back and guys never stopped believing. The defense made some huge plays with interceptions, and gave us an opportunity, and we were able to score some points and put ourselves in a position to tie it up with the field goal at the end.
“So, I’m proud of the way our guys battled. It was a gut punch to see that kick go wide right. I had a ton of confidence that Steve was going to nail that kick, but unfortunately it was a little bit wide. But it doesn’t come down to Stephen – there’s a lot that I could have done better and things we can do better as an offense throughout the game so that we’re not in that situation at the end.”
For the Titans defense, they were gashed early and often by Ben Roethlisberger and company, struggling on third downs, but in the second half they made adjustments and were able to hold the Pittsburgh offense to just 3 points. Now that is something to be proud of, and the Titans certainly are in their second half performance.
“Obviously I am very proud of our team by the way we fought back,” safety Kevin Byard said. “But at the end of the day you can’t spot a great team that’s probably going to be in the playoffs (a lot of points). I love the resiliency in the second half, but at the end of the day our third down defense and red zone defense is going to have to be better if we’re going to continue to win games.
“Every game is a learning process for us. At the end of the day, we are still 5-1. The roof obviously hasn’t fallen through. We are still playing good football up to this point. This is a game that we learn from. Obviously, we know that we are resilient team, and we know that we can come back from a big deficit. But it’s the consistency, and as we continue to progress throughout the season we have to watch the second half, and see how we were playing, and see the effort and things that we were doing, and watch the first half as well and be critical, and say: ‘How do we play the way we played in the second half throughout the entire game?’ That is going to be the key, especially on defense.”
The way teams feel after the game is irrelevant, but don’t think the Titans wouldn’t love to get another shot at the Steelers in the playoffs. Will it happen? Nothing is certain, but both teams prepare for Week 8 with different levels of confidence. The Titans prepare for a trip to play the Bengals, but the Steelers don’t have time to sit and wonder about the what-ifs of this Week 7 game. They have to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8.
For the latest news and notes on the Steelers and Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday, stay tuned to BTSC for the best coverage around.