After the ball hooked proper of the upright, the Pittsburgh Steelers jumped and danced and cavorted alongside their sideline. Because it fluttered extensive, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s jaw fell. He appeared to mutter, “He missed it,” to nobody particularly, earlier than turning, smiling, to his teammates.
The Steelers retreated to their locker room at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Sunday as the one unbeaten group in a rugged A.F.C., however in the future over the following 15 mins or so, after the preliminary satisfaction of a 27-24 victory, their moods modified. It was once as though they’d muddled via a horrible, terrible, no-good, very dangerous day as an alternative in their combatants, the Tennessee Titans (Five-1); as though they have been those who had misplaced when a field-goal try within the waning seconds soared unfaithful.
“I don’t take it with no consideration, however there’s some way that we love to play,” Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward stated. “There’s a large number of meat on that bone.”
“No person’s in point of fact happy after lately,” outdoor linebacker T.J. Watt stated.
“There’s so much for us to be pressing about,” Trainer Mike Tomlin stated. “We gained’t spend a large number of time celebrating this or appreciating this, as a result of our paintings that lies forward.”
The Steelers, who led by means of 24-7 at halftime, ruled the primary part Sunday. They scored on their first 4 drives. They transformed their first seven third-down makes an attempt. They silenced operating again Derrick Henry and muffled quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and held the Titans, the A.F.C. group with the very best scoring moderate, to a unmarried landing.
The Steelers (6-Zero) flailed in the second one part Sunday. Their offense consisted of a measly subject target. They allowed a 73-yard landing. Roethlisberger threw two interceptions. The second one, by means of Amani Hooker finally zone, gave Tennessee, trailing by means of Three issues, the ball with 2 mins 35 seconds final.
In 4 of the Titans’ 5 wins, Tannehill had led them on game-winning drives or in a fourth-quarter comeback, and as he dissected Pittsburgh — 7 yards to Corey Davis on third-and-2, 21 to A.J. Brown on third-and-12 — it appeared altogether imaginable, if not really, that he would achieve this once more. The Titans, after having a first-and-10 on the Pittsburgh 25, moved backward on their subsequent 3 performs — however, it appears, now not a ways sufficient.
Tennessee kicker Stephen Gostkowski is extra correct from a ways distances. He had made all 5 field-goal makes an attempt of a minimum of 50 yards this season. However he had ignored 5 of 10 from 49 yards or nearer, together with two ultimate week towards Houston and 3 within the Titans’ season opener at Denver. The try on Sunday, with 19 seconds final, was once from 45 yards, and the end result was once predictable.
The loss does now not take away the sheen from the Titans’ robust get started, nor does it brush aside their status inside a not easy A.F.C., the place Baltimore, Kansas Town and Buffalo additionally lurk.
Over the approaching weeks and months, that knot of aggressive groups will for sure untangle, however whether or not Tennessee contends for the convention’s most sensible seed — and the one first-round bye within the playoffs — and now not simply an A.F.C. South name is dependent partially on whether or not its protection can resolve its third-down troubles. The Titans entered the sport because the worst third-down protection within the league, permitting conversions on 57.eight % of possibilities, but someway fared worse Sunday: Pittsburgh was once 13 of 18.
“We’re now not beginning speedy sufficient on protection,” Titans protection Kevin Byard stated. “It’s more or less like we’re anticipating the offense to all the time dig us out of a hollow.”
In that sense, the Steelers are the extra entire group, with pass-rushing e-book ends, a stout secondary and an offense that noticed 10 gamers — together with Diontae Johnson, who stuck 9 passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns — contact the ball. That they gained regardless of a minus-Three turnover margin appeared to vex Tomlin, however seven weeks into the season, no different group within the convention had weathered demanding situations — accidents and attrition and adhering to coronavirus protocols and, on Sunday, a powerful comeback from a powerful group — higher than it had.
After it was once over Sunday, after making improvements to to 6-Zero for the primary time since 1978, the Steelers, who play at Baltimore subsequent week, gained now not a shimmering trophy or commemorative attire or a Gatorade bathtub, however slightly a praise that’s much less tangible. They in brief savored the pride that accompanied an accomplishment that may imply a ways, way more in January or February.