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10-09-2011, 06:13 PM
Roethlisberger throws 5 TDs as Steelers roll past Tennessee 38-17
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/re ... thersports (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/steelers-worried-about-slow-start-not-super-bowl-hangover-against-surging-tennessee/2011/10/06/gIQAycMYQL_story.html?wprss=rss_othersports)
By Associated Press, Updated: Sunday, October 9, 2:44 PM
PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger’s sprained left foot is just fine thanks. And so, apparently, are the defending AFC champions.
The quarterback tied a team record by throwing for five touchdowns — including two to Hines Ward — and the Pittsburgh Steelers rolled past the Tennessee Titans 38-17 on Sunday.
Other than a slight limp when he ran, Roethlisberger appeared to have no issues with his sprained left foot, also hitting Mike Wallace, Heath Miller and David Johnson for scores as the Steelers (3-2) ended Tennessee’s three-game winning streak.
The five touchdown passes tied a single-game club record Roethlisberger already shares with Mark Malone and Terry Bradshaw.
Tennessee’s Chris Johnson ran for a score but finished with 51 rushing yards on 14 carries as the Titans (3-2) hot start came to a screeching halt against Pittsburgh’s rejuvenated defense.
The Steelers were playing without injured starters James Harrison, Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith. For an afternoon, they were not missed. Pittsburgh scored touchdowns on its first three possessions as Roethlisberger deftly picked apart the Titans.
He completed 24 of 34 passes for 228 yards, his only hiccup coming on an interception late in the first half after some miscommunication with Antonio Brown cost the Steelers a chance at a late score.
Though Roethlisberger vowed he wouldn’t change the way he played despite spending the first four weeks of the season under siege, the Steelers used a more West Coast-style attack against the Titans with Roethlisberger taking a lot of three-step drops and letting his receivers do the work.
They were only too happy to oblige. Ward caught a season-high seven passes, Wallace added six catches for 82 yards and Miller caught three for 46 yards.
Roethlisberger, who has made a career out of extending plays and looking to go deep, played it closer to the vest. The Steelers spread the field and he did an excellent job of getting the ball out before the defense could get near his left foot, which was inside a steel-plated cleat designed to protect it from further damage.
Until Roethlisberger hit Wallace for a 40-yard score late in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh’s longest completion actually came on a 33-yard pass from punter Dan Sepulveda to Ryan Mundy on a fake punt in the second quarter. The play led to a 7-yard scoring pass from Roethlisberger to Ward that put the Steelers up 14-3.
The trickery was part of a creative offensive gameplan that included a pair of end arounds and a goal line formation with offensive tackle Trai Essex at fullback.
The Steelers biggest surprise, however, came from reserve running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, pressed into service after starter Rashard Mendenhall dressed but did not play due to a sore hamstring.
Redman got the start and ran for 49 yards while Dwyer ran for 107 yards on 11 carries in just his second career game. He ripped off a 76-yard burst down the sideline in the second quarter leading to Roethlisberger’s 1-yard scoring toss to Johnson that put the Steelers up 21-3.
It was all the cushion the defense would need.
Pittsburgh held Tennessee’s Matt Hasselbeck in check, limiting him to 262 mostly inconsequential yards, sacking him three times and picking him off late in the third quarter to snuff out any hopes for a desperate rally.
The Titans were looking to prove their solid start under first-year coach Mike Munchak was no fluke. They came in with the NFL’s stingiest defense — allowing 14 points a game — and were hoping a win on the road against the Steelers would serve as validation that they’re a legitimate playoff contender.
It will have to wait after the Steelers looked like the Steelers for the first time this season.
Pittsburgh trudged through the first month of the season, looking overmatched in losses to Baltimore and Houston and just so-so in wins over Seattle and Indianapolis.
The Steelers re-signed tackle Max Starks this week just over two months after the team cut the veteran in a salary cap purge. He practiced three times and found himself starting at left tackle.
The return of one of Roethlisberger’s best friends seemed to give the offensive line the spark it needed. Roethlisberger was sacked once and rarely got hit.
The defense, which came in ranked 22nd in the league against the run, was nearly as good.
Johnson darted 21 yards on the first play of the game, but after that he found little running room and was rendered almost useless after the Steelers ran out to a big lead.
10-09-2011, 06:48 PM
From a Washington paper? I guess the Redskins are on a bye.
10-09-2011, 08:08 PM
Coach Mike Tomlin on win over Titans
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 2f5010e881 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Coach-Mike-Tomlin-on-win-over-Titans/ab95a2ff-f592-4022-a54c-312f5010e881)
Coach Mike Tomlin: It was a good bounce-back week for us, coming off of a loss. It was an appropriate response. I thought we played together today. We played hard in all three phases. We made the necessary plays. We weren’t perfect by any stretch but under the circumstances, you have to like what you saw. From an injury standpoint, we had a number of in-game injuries, which were insignificant. I think the guys are going to be able to come back. I don’t think this will inhibit them from participating this week. That group is James Farrior with a shoulder injury, Heath Miller with a shoulder injury, Maurkice Pouncey with a right knee injury, he’s fine, Hines Ward has a chest injury, but he’s fine; and Isaac Redman had leg cramps. There was only one worth mentioning, and we will look at moving forward and that’s Marcus Gilbert. We will keep an eye on him and see where he is. Again, the guys played up to the standard. That’s what we expect. It’s a good win for us. Hopefully it will provide momentum for us as we move forward. It was a good football team we played today in the Tennessee Titans. It was good to come back and be victorious against a team such as that.
Re: Fake punt:
We weren’t going to leave any bullets in the gun. It was important that we started fast and competed. I saw an opportunity there, and I took advantage of it.
Why though did you try the fake at that time?
Again, we weren’t going to leave any bullets in the gun. It was appropriate that we got off to a fast start like I said.
Re: Max Starks’ performance:
It’s something that revealed itself to us over the course of the week. I think the first thing is that you have to give credit to him for coming back in the ridiculously good shape he’s in. that’s a prerequisite. He’s a quick study. He got more and more comfortable with what he was capable of doing as the week wore on. Quite honestly, we needed it. We had some men that were partially wounded in some other areas, Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert. He was able to provide what we needed.
Could Max have done as good as a job if he was out of shape?
He’s in good shape today.
Was there a sense of urgency this week?
There needed to be.
Did Gilbert injure his same shoulder?
It is. So that’s why we will continue to monitor it. It’s probably going to make him uncomfortable in the beginning of the week. But we’ll be optimistic, be inclusive from a mentality standpoint about his participation this week. It’s something we are definitely going to have to look at.
Re: Running game:
I am satisfied with the win. We will look at the tape and analyze the quality of the work. More than anything, we weren’t going to get too detailed in terms of some of the things we were looking for. Under the circumstances, we knew it might not be ideal but there needed to be a win. And that’s what it was.
Where did this performance come from?
We expect to play well.
Re: Not using Rashard Mendenhall:
We didn’t need him. The thought there was, if we can get out of here not utilizing him, it would benefit him in the long run, and for us it would be better. Thankfully we were able to do that.
Was Ben more patient today in the pocket?
You guys can characterize it however you want. He had to make the necessary plays today and he did.
Re: Ben being hurt, yet he threw for five touchdowns:
We expect him to play well. He’s an A-player. He’s got to play A for us, in order for us to do well.
Re: Defensive line play:
I thought they did some nice jobs, especially under the circumstances. We had some young men in there. We had a small group of guys working. We only had five guys dressed. Several of them are young. They did a nice job.
Re: LaMarr Woodley’s play:
He did a nice job today. We needed the performance that he gave us. I think he understands that, as do we.
Re: Not being happy with the win:
We won. I am ready to move on.
Re: Previous players being injured:
We will assess those guys. I will have more information for you on Tuesday in regards to some of those guys. I am not ready to characterize it at this juncture. Hopefully they will continue to work, as they have, in terms of getting back to us.
10-09-2011, 08:10 PM
D-line plays its game
By Mike Prisuta - WDVE
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 339fa65a23 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/D-line-plays-its-game/1f80b51a-a0f4-4c39-8b3c-eb339fa65a23)
The very first time the Titans had the ball they gave it to running back Chris Johnson on their very first snap and Johnson promptly gained 21 yards with it.
But this time the Steelers’ defense – an uncharacteristic and uncomfortable No. 22 in the NFL in rushing defense prior to Sunday’s Heinz Field meeting with Tennessee – wasn’t deterred.
“It was, ‘All right, let’s go. Let’s not let that happen again.’ And that’s what we did,” defensive end Brett Keisel said.
“We settled down,” nose tackle Chris Hoke added. “And we got (back to) playing our game.”
Johnson would finish with just 51 rushing yards on the day and the Titans with only 66 as a team in what became a 38-17 victory for the Steelers, a win that was as reassuring as it was one-sided.
The offense made its mark, from Ben Roethlisberger’s five touchdown passes to Hines Ward’s first two receiving touchdowns of the season to Jonathan Dwyer’s 76-yard run on the way to a 107-yard afternoon to Heath Miller’s continued rise up the franchise’s lists for receiving yards and touchdowns.
But for the defense, it was all about stuffing the run.
The Steelers did so in satisfying fashion, especially given the circumstances and the statistics.
They got Keisel back after a two-week absence (knee) for the Tennessee game. But they were without nose tackle Casey Hampton (shoulder) and defensive end Aaron Smith (foot).
Enter Hoke, who took the field having participated in a victory 15 times in 16 career regular-season starts prior to last Sunday. Second-year nose tackle Steve McClendon was also more heavily called upon than usual, as were former No. 1 picks Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward at defensive end. And both of them produced, with Heyward collecting his first career sack and Hood adding a half-sack.
That revamped line set a tone that resonated throughout the defense.
“I thought we played the run pretty well for the most part, except for one or two runs here or there,” Hoke said. “We always talk about, in order to be able to stop the pass and get after a passer we have to shut down the run. If we don’t shut down the run they have play-action and everybody’s kind of being antsy. Having success with the run helped us.”
The Titans’ 66 rushing yards constituted the second-lowest total allowed by the Steelers this season (Seattle had 31 on Sept. 18).
For a defense that coughed up 170 rushing yards on Sept. 11 at Baltimore and 180 on Oct. 2 at Houston, that’s progress.
“I’m excited to watch this film (on Monday),” Hoke said. “I still have to get better, don’t get me wrong. I still need to work and Steve (McLendon), we need to work together to hold down that fort, until hopefully, Casey comes back, so that’s what we’ll do.”
The defense knows the standard to which it is and will be held, especially against the run, even without the likes of Smith, Hampton and outside linebacker James Harrison, who will miss a few more weeks after having surgery to repair an orbital bone on Oct. 5.
“Those guys are great players but we have good depth here,” Keisel said. “This is the National Football League. Guys are going to go down; that’s part of the game.
“You have to have guys step in and play.”
10-09-2011, 08:12 PM
Steelers at 3-2 after 38-17 win
By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... d9f7fa2c18 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Steelers-at-3-2-after-38-17-win/06f99fab-93c2-4147-89d4-49d9f7fa2c18)
STEELERS 38, TITANS 17
Steelers’ record: 3-2
One year ago: 4-1
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 44-30
Mike Tomlin assessed his team as it began preparing for this game against the Titans. “I think they are hacked off and they should be. We haven’t performed close enough to what we expect. We’ve lost games because of it, specifically we lost last week (to the Houston Texans). We look forward to preparing and playing this week in front of our home fans, and hopefully righting this thing.”
On the game’s opening possession, the Titans had a first-and-goal at the Steelers’ 7-yard line when LaMarr Woodley broke through to sack Matt Hasselbeck for a 5-yard loss. The Titans ended up having to settle for a field goal, and the Steelers would score four touchdowns to take a 28-3 lead before Tennessee managed another score.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
In their history, the Steelers have had three different quarterbacks throw five touchdown passes in a game – Terry Bradshaw, Mark Malone and Ben Roethlisberger. After last Sunday’s game, Roethlisberger is the only one to do it twice.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* The Other Team Has Coaches, Too, Dept.: The Titans moved the ball smartly down the field on their opening possession to a first-and-goal at the Steelers 4-yard line – 76 yards in eight plays – but then Tennessee offensive coordinator Chris Palmer got “creative.” After sending tackle Mike Otto into the game as an eligible receiver/extra blocker, the Titans faked a handoff to Chris Johnson and Matt Hasselbeck threw the ball to Otto, who is 6-foot-5, 310 pounds. The pass was one that would have required an athletic play beyond Otto’s abilities, and that set off a sequence of events ending with the Titans having to settle for a 29-yard field goal.
* The Titans had the game’s early momentum after their game-opening 69-yard drive to a field goal, but Antonio Brown helped the Steelers regain the psychological edge and kept the 63,875 at Heinz Field involved when he returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to midfield. Later on the drive, Brown added a 17-yard catch that put the ball at the Tennessee 8-yard line and set up Ben Roethlisberger’s touchdown pass to Heath Miller to give the Steelers a 7-3 lead.
* His first pass completion in the NFL came in 2007, a 32-yard play to Najeh Davenport on a fake punt on Dec. 20 against the Rams in St. Louis. Daniel Sepulveda’s second completion came early in the second quarter last Sunday against the Titans. This time the pass went to Ryan Mundy, on a fourth-and-5 at midfield, and it was good for a 33-yard gain to the Tennessee 17-yard line. Two plays after this successful fake punt, Roethlisberger passed to Hines Ward for the touchdown that gave the Steelers a 14-3 lead.
* Chris Johnson had 30 yards on five carries on Tennessee’s first offensive possession; on the other four possessions in the first half he had five carries for 12 yards. The Titans had 11 offensive possessions in the game, and so Johnson gained 21 yards on nine carries (2.3 average) after the game’s first series.
* On Seattle’s first offensive play following the recovery of Rob Bironas’ onside kick in the third quarter, Brett Keisel batted Matt Hassebeck’s pass into the air, and LaMarr Woodley came down with the ball for the Steelers’ first interception of the season.
* On a fourth-and-5 from the Steelers 40-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, Matt Hasselbeck had WR Marc Mariani in a man-to-man situation with Keenan Lewis. Hasselbeck went that way, but Lewis broke up the pass and the Steelers took over on downs with 7:28 remaining.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* When the offense is flagged for a false start, play is supposed to stop, but that’s not the way it was being called in the first quarter. On a play in which the Titans were flagged for a false start, play was allowed to continue long enough for Ryan Clark to get flagged for unnecessary roughness after a hit out of bounds. The false start penalty was negated as was the gain on the play, but the Titans still got the 15 yards for Clark’s penalty.
* It was late in the first half and the Steelers were looking to add to their 21-3 lead. It was a third-and-4 from the Tennessee 27-yard line, and there were 12 seconds left and the Steelers had one timeout left. The call from the sideline was for a spike, but Ben Roethlisberger tried to throw a quick screen to the right, where wide receivers Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders were lined up in a bunch. None of them made a move for the ball, and Cortland Finnegan intercepted.
* On the kickoff following Chris Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run that made it 28-10, the Titans attempted an onside kick, and it was recovered by Alterraun Verner at the Steelers 45-yard line. On the play, Arnaz Battle went up to try to grab the high hop but he was separated from the ball by a hit from Fernando Velasco, which allowed Verner the chance to cover the loose ball.
* Seemingly in control, the Steelers lined up to punt from their own 42-yard line with a 31-10 lead. But after a false start penalty on Larry Foote moved the line of scrimmage back to the 37-yard line, Tim Shaw broke through to block Daniel Sepulveda’s punt. Cortland Finnegan recovered and ran the ball into the end zone, but an illegal block penalty nullified the score and after the 10 yards was assessed the Titans took possession at Pittsburgh’s 37-yard line.
Said Coach Mike Tomlin, “From an injury standpoint, we had a number of in-game injuries, which were insignificant. I think those guys are going to be able to come back. I don’t think this will inhibit them from participating this week. That group includes James Farrior with a shoulder injury; Heath Miller with a shoulder injury; Maurkice Pouncey with a right knee injury, he’s fine; Hines Ward has a chest injury but he’s fine; and Isaac Redman had leg cramps. There was only one injury worth mentioning that we will look at moving forward and that’s Marcus Gilbert. We will keep an eye on him and see where he is.”
10-09-2011, 11:43 PM
Big Ben plays with pain, sense of urgency
October, 9, 2011
By Jamison Hensley
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers didn't have their best pass-rusher, their leading rusher and two starting defensive linemen.
But they did have Big Ben.
Limping to the sideline after every drive, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger rarely lost stride on the field, tying a team record with five touchdown passes and leading the Steelers to a much-needed 38-17 win over the Tennessee Titans. Pittsburgh avoided going below .500 and improved to 3-2 to keep within a half-game of the division-leading Ravens.
No one could say where the renewed sense of urgency came from Sunday, although the importance of this game should have been clear to every Steeler when Roethlisberger put on an oversized shoe with a steel plate in the bottom to stabilize his sprained left foot.
In warm-ups, a hobbled Roethlisberger trailed his teammates sprinting onto the field. After the opening kickoff, Roethlisberger was the one who was leading everyone.
He threw touchdown passes of 8, 7 and 1 yards on the first three drives. These are the same Steelers who had two touchdowns in the previous 21 drives entering the game.
This wasn't just a gutsy performance. It was a punch-the-other-team-in-the-gut effort.
"I just don't want to let my guys down," Roethlisberger said. "I want to give them my best. I'll be there until they take me off in a cart, which has happened before. Regardless of injury, there are lots of guys going through it. We just have to go out and do our best."
Maybe an injured Roethlisberger is a more dangerous one. In his first four games, he had three touchdowns and five interceptions.
With the sprained foot, Roethlisberger turned into a West Coast-style quarterback who took three-step drops and got rid of the ball quickly. Instead of always looking for the knockout blows, it was more like a series of jabs from Roethlisberger, who was 24 of 34 for 228 yards.
He also didn't force the ball downfield against the Titans' Cover 2 defense. Roethlisberger took the intermediate passes over the middle, completing 10 total passes to Hines Ward and tight end Heath Miller.
"I'm not the only guy playing with an injury," Roethlisberger said. "I'm not going to complain about it. More impressively and more importantly is how guys have stepped up and filled in for people."
Still, there were nine Steelers on the injury report this week, including six starters: Roethlisberger, nose tackle Casey Hampton (shoulder), linebacker James Harrison (eye), defensive end Aaron Smith (foot), running back Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring) and left guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee). The only one who stepped, or limped, onto the field was Roethlisberger.
He went through his progressions before finding Miller over the middle for his first touchdown. He sold the Titans' defense on a play-action fake before hitting a wide-open Ward for his second one. And he rolled to his right before connecting with David Johnson for his third scoring pass of the first half.
Roethlisberger extended the Steelers' lead to 28-3 in the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ward and put the finishing touches on the convincing victory with a 40-yard touchdown strike to Mike Wallace in the fourth quarter.
Because Roethlisberger has played hurt so many times, his teammates weren't really surprised by his effort.
"We're used to it," Ward said.
To put Roethlisberger's performance in perspective, he threw five touchdown passes against the NFL's stingiest defense, one that had allowed five touchdowns all season.
"We expect him to play well," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's an A-player. He's got to play [that way] for us in order for us to do well."
Roethlisberger's heroics shouldn't overshadow how others stepped up for the Steelers to pound a Titans team that had won three consecutive games, including convincing victories over two AFC North teams (Baltimore and Cleveland).
Max Starks received the game ball when he started at left tackle after three practices. The offensive line allowed Roethlisberger to get hit once and opened up holes that allowed backup running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer to gain 156 yards.
The Steelers' struggling run defense was impressive despite missing three starters out the front seven. After giving up 21 yards on the first run, Pittsburgh limited Titans running back Chris Johnson to 30 yards on his remaining 13 carries (2.3 yards). It looked like the old Steelers defense with the amount of pursuit and penetration.
And the Steelers' coaching staff heavily influenced the outcome. Tomlin held two padded practices this week to get that physical mentality back. Then, with the Steelers ahead 7-3 early in the second quarter, Pittsburgh converted a fourth-and-5 at midfield with a fake punt. The 33-yard pass from punter Daniel Sepulveda (his second career completion) led to the Steelers' second touchdown.
"We weren’t going to leave any bullets in the gun," Tomlin said.
That all-out approach described Roethisberger's game.
When he came off the field following a drive, he hobbled to the sideline and grimaced with each step he took on the injured foot. When he was under center, it was difficult to tell he was injured.
Now, even with a less-than-full-strength Roethlisberger, the Steelers appear set to make a run. Pittsburgh plays host to Jacksonville (1-4) before going to Arizona (1-4).
Asked how his foot was feeling after the game, Roethlisberger said, "We won the game big-time, so it feels good."
10-10-2011, 12:03 AM
Ben Roethlisberger's 5 TDs tie team record as Steelers rebound
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger has a pretty good explanation for how a guy with one good foot can throw for five touchdowns as he did in Pittsburgh's 38-17 thumping of Tennessee on Sunday.
"I told ya, I was just faking it," Roethlisberger said. "I'm a wimp."
The Steelers were desperate entering Sunday. And then Ben Roethlisberger took over and took down Tennessee, writes Jamison Hensley.
There's no way around it, the Titans took some major steps backwards in Sunday's blowout loss, writes Paul Kuharsky. Blog
Limping slightly on his sprained left foot, Roethlisberger put together the kind of sublime effort that's become one of his trademarks. The more he's banged up, the better he seems to play.
"He's done it before," said wide receiver Hines Ward, who caught two of Roethlisberger's scoring tosses. "We're used to it."
Even if they're not used to the way Roethlisberger matched his own franchise mark for touchdowns in a game, one he shares with Mark Malone and Terry Bradshaw.
Playing behind a patchwork offensive line that included good friend Max Starks -- signed on Wednesday -- Roethlisberger worked efficiently, getting rid of the ball quickly to keep Tennessee's defense at bay.
It's a major style change for a player who has built a career by holding onto the ball until the last millisecond while looking to make a big play, sometimes taking a beating in the process.
The Titans (3-2) never really got close Sunday.
Roethlisberger was sacked once and rarely touched while completing 24 of 34 passes for 228 yards. His only hiccup came on an interception that snuffed out a potential scoring drive late in the first half.
"He's an A-player," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's got to play (that way) in order for us to do well."
A month into the season, the Steelers (3-2) finally looked like the team that rolled to the AFC championship a year ago. The defense, missing starters James Harrison, Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith, held Tennessee running back Chris Johnson to 51 yards on 14 carries and sacked quarterback Matt Hasselbeck three times.
It's the kind of performance Tomlin was looking for after watching his team get rolled in Houston a week ago. The Steelers practiced twice in pads for the first -- and only -- time this season and the increased workload appeared to have a carry-over effect.
"I think it sent a message that we need to play more physical," said linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who had an interception and 1½ sacks. "We went out there and we brought it."
The Titans came in as one of the early surprises behind the play of Hasselbeck and the understated approach of new coach Mike Munchak. A road victory against a perennial playoff team would serve as validation their hot start was no fluke.
Yet they never really got going. Hasselbeck threw for 262 mostly inconsequential yards and the NFL's stingiest scoring defense couldn't contain Roethlisberger or reserve running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. The duo combined to run for 156 yards in place of Rashard Mendenhall, who dressed but did not play because of a hamstring injury.
"They kicked our butts and we kicked our butts," Tennessee defensive lineman David Ball said.
The Titans committed nine penalties for 70 yards and couldn't get the Steelers off the field on third down, particularly in the first half. Pittsburgh converted four of six third-downs in the opening 30 minutes, and even when punter Daniel Sepulveda came out onto the field, the Steelers still moved the ball.
Sepulveda hit Ryan Mundy for a 33-yard gain on a fake punt that helped the Steelers build a 21-3 halftime as Pittsburgh scored more points by the break than the Titans had allowed in a game all season.
"I think they just made it hard for us today," Munchak said. "I wouldn't necessarily say we were flat, but we didn't play well. You can't do that against a good team."
And the Steelers, despite their sluggish start, still consider themselves among the best in the league even as their quarterback spent the first four weeks of the season under siege.
Roethlisberger sprained his foot in the second half against Houston, sat out one day of practice then took the field Sunday with a plated cleat to protect the foot from further harm. He promised not to change the way he played, but he did keep the gunslinging to a minimum as the Steelers used a more West Coast-style attack against the Titans with Roethlisberger taking a lot of three-step drops and letting his receivers do the work.
They were only too happy to oblige.
Ward caught a season-high seven passes, Wallace added six catches for 82 yards and a score, Heath Miller caught three for 46 yards and tight end David Johnson added a 1-yard scoring grab.
The Steelers scored the first three times they had the ball, forcing the Titans to abandon the running game. Johnson admitted having hamstring issues in the second half and didn't play in the fourth quarter, but Tennessee's bigger problem was playing against a defense that showed fire against a quality opponent for the first time this season.
"We just didn't make plays that we've got to make," Hasselbeck said. "We had opportunities."
The best came in the third quarter after a 1-yard run by Johnson brought Tennessee within 28-10. The Titans recovered the onside kick and got the ball at the Pittsburgh 45.
The momentum lasted all of one play.
Pittsburgh's Brett Keisel tipped a Hasselbeck pass and Woodley ran it down to collect just the second Steelers' turnover of the season.
The ensuing drive ended with a Shaun Suisham field goal to put the Steelers up 31-10 early in the fourth quarter and that was it, though Roethlisberger put an exclamation point on the victory by hitting Wallace for a 40-yard score with 2:39 to play to cap the second five-touchdown day of his career.
Roethlisberger now has 152 career touchdown passes, second-most in team history behind Bradshaw's 212. ... Miller's touchdown grab was the 30th of his career, making him the eighth Steeler to reach the 30-touchdown plateau. ... Chris Johnson has struggled during his career against the Steelers. He now has 211 yards in four games, an average of 52.8 yards. His career average per game is 94.1. ... The Steelers have won three straight in the series. ... Pittsburgh tackle Marcus Gilbert left the game with a left shoulder injury. ... The Steelers host Jacksonville next week while the Titans are off ... Pittsburgh's 38 points were the most allowed by the Titans since giving up 42 to San Diego in a 42-17 loss on Dec. 25, 2009.
10-10-2011, 03:29 PM
Gerry: Ben-Wallace as good as it gets
MONDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2011
WRITTEN BY GERRY DULAC
Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace are quickly becoming the most feared deep passing duo in the NFL.
Roethlisberger's 40-yard touchdown pass to Wallace that capped off his five-TD performance against the Titans was the 10th time the duo has hooked up for a touchdown of 40 yards or longer. And they've done it in only 32 games together.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other active tandem has more TDs of 40 yards or longer and that's Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts, who have 12.
Manning, though, is injured and might not play this season, so Roethlisberger and Wallace have a chance to move into the top spot before the end of the season.
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