For years, when former Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski would march onto the field to attempt a field goal, it was as good as automatic.
Times have certainly changed.
Sunday in Nashville with the Steelers clinging to a three-point lead with :19 seconds left, Gostkowski came in to attempt a 45-yard field goal that would have tied the game and more than likely sent it to overtime.
Instead, Gostkowski pushed the field goal wide right, and the Steelers survived as they moved to 6-0 with a 27-24 win over the Titans.
It’s the first time since 1978 the team is 6-0, and that season, as everyone knows, the team would go on to beat the Cowboys that year in the Super Bowl.
They went 7-0 to start that 1978 campaign before losing on a Monday night to the Oilers, the team they historically have had some great tussles with.
The black and gold built a 27-7 lead, then had to hang on for dear life, as they made way too many mistakes allowing a long TD catch and run to A.J. Brown, and QB Ben Roethlisberger threw three picks, two big ones in the second half.
Nevertheless, the Steelers were a winner, and in a game in which they were expected to be tested like they have yet to in 2020, they got the win that keeps them undefeated.
Here’s a couple takeaways from the win for the Steelers as they look ahead to their biggest rival next week in the Ravens:
1. A Near Perfect Start
The Steelers were about as good as you could get for the first 30 minutes, as they did whatever they wanted on offense, and on defense they stonewalled Derrick Henry and the Titans offense.
In the Steelers first four offensive possessions, they went like this – touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, interception to end the half.
They put up 228 yards to 83 for the Titans, and Roethlisberger was 17-for-25 for 160 with two scores and a pick.
Rushing the ball James Conner ran for 60 yards, while Henry ran for just 27.
The Titans were held to just over 10 minutes in time of possession, and while you can complain about how poorly the Steelers closed out the game, nearly losing it, they played well enough in that first half to build a big lead.
The Steelers came out with an attitude on defense, holding Titans QB Ryan Tannehill to 6-for-11 for 50 yards with a score.
You will take that type of effort on the road against a good team every week, and it directly led to the Steelers hanging on for the win.
2. It Was the Little Things
Going back to last season this team had all kinds of issues when it came to third down, but much like last week against the Browns, the Steelers were very good against Tennessee going 13-for-18 in converting thirds.
When you can impose your will on third down it sends a message, and again while the Steelers had issues in the second half, they did have a number of key third down conversions in that second to last offensive drive (which ended with a pick in the end zone), that ran the clock.
The Titans on the other hand were 5-for-13 on third downs, which again shows how aggressive the team was trying to get after Tannehill and the Titans offense.
For most of the day the Titans were single digits when it came to first downs, while the Steelers with their super effective offense were able to run up big numbers on putting up first downs.
The game plan was played out to perfection for the first 30 minutes, and while the Steelers had to survive the Titans late surge, it all worked out in the end.
3. The Road Gets Tougher
Next Sunday the Steelers will play their biggest rival in a game that surely is going to draw plenty of eyeballs, as the team heads to play Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
The game being in Baltimore gives the Ravens the early edge, and the fact that the Steelers have never beaten Jackson has to be weighing on their minds.
They had a shot last season but lost early in the season as they fell to 1-4 after losing in OT to the Ravens at Heinz Field.
Again a loss doesn’t mean the season is over by any means, but after laying the smack down on the Titans, beating Baltimore would be a HUGE step forward and put this team clearly in the driver’s seat as the best (right now) in the AFC.
The Steelers, as they have done all year, will stay away from the trash talking with the Ravens, if there is any, and when it comes time to take the field they should be focused and ready.
Will it be enough to get to 7-0? It’ll be a great test to say the least.
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