All week the experts talked about how the Steelers were going to able to take advantage of a beat up Titans team that was ready to play them without Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Well, mark this one in favor of the Titans, as not only didn’t the Steelers take care of business in Tennessee, they were beat up and down the field most of the day as Tennessee responded with a knockout blow and a 31-14 win of the team that is expected to be their biggest challenge to the AFC crown.
Led by a big day by Kerry Collins and a banged up defense that recorded five turnovers, the Titans secured the number one seed in the conference. Collins was mistake free, which you cannot say about Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Collins went 20-for-29 for 216 yards with a TD and no picks.
He made some big throws in a big stretch in which the Titans ran off 14 points to turn a 14-10 deficit into a 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. They hit plays on third down, and plays on fourth down to quiet the NFL’s number one defense. The Steelers D, talked about as the best in a long time all week, allowed over 300 yards for the first time all season.
The win for the Titans means they will have to win two games, both at home to make it to Tampa Bay for the Super Bowl. Winning at home has been the best way to make it to the Super Bowl, and today’s win has to make them the favorite to do that. They pushed and shoved their way to the win with a tough D and a physical offense that matched the Steelers very good defense tooth and nail.
As for Roethlisberger, he played well enough as the Steelers were able to grab a 14-10 lead on a Hines Ward TD in the third quarter, but then he and the team fell apart. The Titans sacked Roethlisberger five times and forced him into four turnovers that they turned into 21 points. He even threw a pick during the desperate end as Michael Griffin ran back a pick up the field and up the left sideline for an 83-yard TD return with 16 seconds left.
Roethsliberger was 26-for-40 with 331 yards with two TD’s and two picks. He was nowhere near his comeback self like he was the past two weeks against the Cowboys and Ravens. While the Steelers D still ranks as possibly the best in the league, the offense still lacks, and could very well be this teams letdown in the postseason.
The Steelers will likely rest a number of players next week in their home finale vs Cleveland, as they cannot improve or go backwards in their AFC standing.