Titans 17 ? Steelers 40
Antonio Brown: 10 receptions for 144 yards – 3 Touchdowns
Le ?Veon Bell: 9 receptions for 57 yards
JuJu Smith-Schuster: 4 receptions for 37 yards
Martavis Bryant: 2 receptions for 30 yards
Jesse James: 5 receptions for 21 yards – 1 Touchdown
Le ?Veon Bell: 12 rushes for 46 yards, Avg: 3.8 yards – 1 Touchdown
James Conner: 5 rushes for 12 yards, Avg: 2.4 yards
Chris Boswell ? FGM: 4 for 4, PCT: 100%, XPM ? 4 , 16 PTS:
It was a reunion of sorts, as tonight’s contest marked the return of former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau back to Heinz Field. Unfortunately, the reunion was not a happy one for the Hall Of Fame coordinator, as he watched his Tennessee Titans fall victim to the Steelers, 40 -17. The Steelers improved their record to 8-2 and solidified their position atop the AFC North.
The Steelers offense was in full attack mode from the opening drive of the game, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed a 41-yard touchdown, giving the Steelers the early 7- 0 lead.
Following an interception by Steelers defensive back Mike Hilton, the offense failed to find the end zone but settled for a field goal by Steelers kicker Chris Boswell to make it 10 – 0. After a succession of unsuccessful drives in the second quarter, the Steelers offense settled for 2 field goals, giving them the 16 -7 lead before the end of the half.
In the third quarter following a 75-yard touchdown from Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota to receiver Rishard Matthews, the Steelers offense responded with a 75-yard scoring drive, giving them a 23-14 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Steelers offense put together perhaps their most impressive scoring drive of the season, in which five different Steelers players touched the ball, ending in a 1-yard touchdown reception by tight end Jesse James and expanding their lead to 16 points. After another failed series by the Titans offense, the Steelers offense capitalized with a 51 yard touchdown drive, capped off by a highlight-worthy touchdown reception by All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, giving them a 37-14 lead and complete control of the contest. The finishing touch was added by Boswell’s 26-yard field goal, cementing an insurmountable 40-14 lead and the victory.
Roethlisberger ended the contest with 299 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, while Brown ended with a game-high 144 receiving yards with 3 touchdowns. Brown reached the 1000 yards plateau for the sixth time in his career.
For those who have followed my postgame commentary over the last few weeks, you know that I have stressed the problem with this Steelers offense has been their inability to utilize all their weapons effectively. On this night, I was very impressed with the offensive output by the Steelers against a very tough Tennessee Titans team (the victory was much harder than it looked). As great as this game was, this Steelers offense is still missing one important element — a reliable tight end.
Ben Roethlisberger a few weeks ago was on record saying that his all-time favorite teammate was Heath Miller, for many reasons which make sense. In addition to being selfless and the consummate team player, Miller was Roethlisberger’s most reliable target. Most notably on third down, Miller always came up with a big catch to extend the drive and did so consistently. When one remembers the Steelers offense from 2014 and 2015, part of what made them so difficult to play against was because of the presence of a reliable tight end.
When viewing Jesse James, it is apparent that his skillset is a reflection of where he was selected in the draft back in 2015. Even with the touchdown catch, his performance on this night was well below his standards. Although James is not the sole reason why this offense has underachieved for much of this season, his contribution is necessary for this offense to expand. If one is to look at why the Patriots offense has been successful offensively as of late, one should look at the contributions by tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen and the recently re-acquired Martellus Bennett.
As encouraging as it was to seeing a collective offense assault, the tight ends currently on the Steelers roster need to take their game to the next level in order to help this team establish themselves as the true Super Bowl contenders.
Steelers Play of the Game:
This 10-yard touchdown helmet catch by Antonio Brown doesn’t need any explanations.