Stephen Gostkowski’s game-tying field goal attempt in the final minute slipped wide right and the Pittsburgh Steelers held on for a 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday.
The Titans were driving late after a Ben Roethlisberger interception, but a crucial intentional grounding penalty thanks to pressure on Ryan Tannehill by Stephon Tuitt pushed them back on the last drive.
The Steelers built an early lead with a pair of impressive offensive drives. They took the opening kickoff and marched 100 yards over 16 plays in 9:18, with Roethlisberger hitting Diontae Johnson for an 11-yard score.
After a Titans three-and-out, the Steelers took over and went on another long drive, this one a 13-play, 61-yard affair that took 7:05 off the clock and ended in a 1-yard Benny Snell touchdown plunge.
The Titans responded with four-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to Corey Davis, but Roethlisberger once again found Johnson for a four-yard score and Pittsburgh went into the break with a seemingly safe 24-7 lead.
In the second half, it was all Tennessee as the Titans got a big play from Tannehill to A.J. Brown on a 73-yard coach and run and Derrick Henry scored from 1-yard out to bring Tennessee to pithing a field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers were driving and looked to be set to salt the game away before Roethlisberger was intercepted and set up the Titans’s final drive.
The Steelers are now 6-0 for the first time since 1978. They’ll visit the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.
Mike Tomlin’s ‘MAC Guys’ Get the Last Laugh
In discussing his team’s Week 11 game with the under-performing Jacksonville Jaguars, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin chose to use a college football comparison.
“We’re not a Big 10 team playing a MAC team,” Tomlin said last week. “Every time we step into a stadium, we are playing professionals, players and coaches.”
The message was a clear one to not overlook the moribund Jaguars. That mission was accomplished, as the Steelers coasted to a 27-3 victory in Jacksonville on Sunday.
But he may want to pick a different doormat for his analogy the next time. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a MAC alum from Miami University, said he was going to make a response as soon he figured out which conference William & Mary — Tomlin’s alma mater — plays in.
Roethlisberger is far from the only MAC alum on the Steelers. Star wide receiver Diontae Johnson went to Toledo, as did backup linebackers Ola Adeniyi and Jayrone Elliott. Right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and inside linebacker Robert Spillane are West Michigan grads. Injured linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III went to Akron and practice squad wide receiver Anthony Johnson is a Buffalo alum, giving the Steelers eight former MAC members.
And those guys came up big in the win. Roethlisberger threw for two touchdowns, Johnson had over 100 yards receiving, Okorafor was part of a line that helped James Conner to 6.8 yards per carry and kept Roethlisberger from being sacked and Spillane had four tackles.
After Sunday’s win, some of the Steelers’ MAC graduates got the last laugh, with Roethlisberger, Adeniyi, Johnson, Okorafor and Spillane getting Tomlin to pose with a photo.
“MAC guys” captioned Robert Spillane on Instagram, with laughing emojis.
Maybe next time, Tomlin should pick on the Sun Belt.
From the Steelers Locker Room: Minkah Fitzpatrick on Being Focused Each Week, Not Looking Ahead
Minkah Fitzpatrick made it clear to the media, including Steelers Now, that his team made sure to not overlook the Jaguars and is only focused on each individual week, not the possibility of going 16-0.
Mike Tomlin Downplays JuJu Smith-Schuster’s Injury
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a minor ailment in the Steelers’ 27-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed after the game.
Tomlin characterized Smith-Schuster’s injury as part of the “minor bumps and bruises associated with play.” Smith-Schuster left the game in the fourth quarter with the Steelers leading by multiple scores.
Tomlin said that he didn’t think the injury was anything major, but acknowledge that “it could be a factor for him” when dealing with a short week of preparation upcoming. The Steelers are set to host the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night.
Smith-Schuster caught four passes for 19 yards in the game before he left with the injury. Ray-Ray McCloud replaced him in the top group of receivers.