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fordfixer
09-12-2009, 01:47 AM
Steelers beat the Titans, 13-10, in overtime

By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, September 11, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 42583.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_642583.html)

The city of Pittsburgh held a party Thursday with the defending Super Bowl champions as the featured guests.

And the Steelers weren't about to let the Tennessee Titans crash it.

Playing in front of a record, towel-waving crowd at Heinz Field as well a national TV audience, the Steelers overcame a team that has no problem playing the physical brand of football that is preferred here as well as their own shortcomings on offense.

A 13-10 victory in overtime against the Titans stretched the Steelers' season-opener winning streak to seven games and got them off to an auspicious, if not exactly rousing start in front of an announced crowd of 65,110. The Steelers never could find a rhythm offensively, and they had to rely on their defense to beat a team they had lost to in three of their previous four meetings.

The home team made it hard on itself as wide receiver Hines Ward lost a fumble inside the Titans' 5-yard line when the Steelers were poised to win the game at the end of regulation.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, however, engineered a drive on the first possession of overtime that set up Jeff Reed's 33-yard field goal with 10 minutes, 28 seconds left in the extra quarter.

"I liked the way the guys stayed together," said coach Mike Tomlin, whose team plays next on Sept. 20 against the Bears in Chicago. "We were not a perfect team by any stretch but it was good to maybe learn some lessons with a 'W.'"

Roethlisberger threw for 363 yards and a touchdown. Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward each had over 100 yards receiving while rookie Mike Wallace's 22-yard reception set up Reed's game-winning field goal.

The victory did not come without a cost to the Steelers.

All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, who made a spectacular, one-armed interception last night, left the game in the second quarter with a medial collateral sprain in his left knee. Coach Mike Tomlin said initial indications are that Polamalu will miss three to six weeks.

"I don't have any concrete evidence that it is worse than that," Tomlin said while acknowledging the possibility that the injury could be more serious than originally thought.

The same struggles the Steelers had offensively last season re-surfaced early in their first game.

The Steelers managed just two rushing yards in the first quarter, and the offensive line had as much trouble protecting Roethlisberger as it did punching holes in the Titans' front seven.

The first quarter of the season for Roethlisberger, meanwhile, is one he'd just as soon forget. He underthrew Wallace on a deep pass that might have gone for a touchdown if it had been completed. Roethlisberger also took a sack that knocked the Steelers out of field goal range and he threw an interception in the first 15 minutes of the contest.

The Steelers didn't get anything going offensively until they switched to hurry-up mode near the end of the second quarter.

Looking comfortable in the no-huddle attack, Roethlisberger needed just five plays to get the Steelers into the end zone.

A 29-yard reception by Ward set up Roethlisberger's 34-yard touchdown pass to Holmes.

The hook-up between Roethlisberger and the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII came with one minute and 29 seconds left in the first half. And the Steelers ended up leaving too much time on the clock.

That is because the Titans needed just three plays to match the Steelers touchdown and take some air out of a charged crowd.

A defensive breakdown led to a 57-yard pass from Collins to rookie wide receiver Kenny Britt. On the next play Collins drilled a pass to Justin Gage.

That allowed the Titans, who missed a field goal and had another one blocked in the first two quarters of play, to forge a 7-7 tie going into halftime.

The defensive struggle continued in the second half with neither offense able to mount anything resembling a drive.

The teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter, setting up Roethlisberger's heroics in overtime.

"Ben does a great job when things break down and he's going to make plays and that's what he did," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "If you give him enough opportunities he's going to make the plays."