Four Field Goals Lift Pittsburgh Steelers Over Tennessee Titans

Sept. 19, 2010 – John Ritter

No Roethlisberger, no problem.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is fierce once again – and that’s apparently enough.

Without their Pro Bowl quarterback for the second-straight week, the patchwork Steelers got all the points they needed – barely – on the first play of the game when Antonio Brown returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The defense, and kicker Jeff Reed, did the rest of the work, locking down Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans to total yards in a 19-11 win.

Tennessee, favored by most NFL Betting Odds, has only lost three of it’s last 12 contests.

Reed kicked four field goals, none longer than 36 yards.

His short-range day was evidence of the Steelers’ ineptitude in the red zone after scoring just 15 points a week ago. Pittsburgh was forced to bring in fourth-string quarterback Charlie Batch after Dennis Dixon went down with an apparent knee injury. Next week will be a headache for head coach Mike Tomlin, who will have to choose from two quarterbacks on the NFL Injury Report or Batch to start against the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But it’s only smiles at the moment.

“Our guys stayed together,” said Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward. “We had a fourth-string quarterback out there playing. We were interchanging with our offensive line who were cramping up. We still find a way to win ballgames. We know we’ve got to get better offensively, but it’s great to be 2-0.”

The defense stepped up big for the second-straight week, reeling off four sacks and a whopping seven turnovers.

“We’ve been playing pretty good,” Steelers safety Troy Polamalu told the Associated Press. “There are some mistakes we’ve got to learn from. They were in the game still even with all the turnovers they had, so we still have to get bette

Suddenly, the Steelers are 2-0 and on top of the AFC North division despite playing without either of their top-two quarterbacks, and losing their third option on Sunday.

The Titans, meanwhile, had their own struggles at quarterback. After turning the ball over three times, Vince Young was yanked for Kerry Collins in the third with little improvement. Collins fumbled twice and was picked off. Tennessee’s seven turnovers, four of them fumbles were most since 2000.

Head coach Jeff Fisher insisted Collins won’t continue to start, as he did in 2008 after subbing for Young. Instead, Young will return under center against the New York Giants next week.

“That defense has created some very difficult opportunities for a number of quarterbacks in this league year after year after year, even the most veteran quarterbacks,” Fisher told the AP. “This is his first opportunity against them. He’ll get more opportunities against this defense, I’m sure.”

Even Chris Johnson couldn’t save the day, limited to just 34 yards on 16 carries. It snapped a 12-game streak of 100 yards or more, two games shy of Barry Sanders’ all-time mark. He had an 85-yard touchdown scamper erased on a holding penalty.

Pittsburgh only gained 128 offensive yards, but was bailed out by a swarming defense. James Harrison had three sacks, and was involved in two fumble recoveries. Four of Tennessee’s turnovers turned into field goals.

Under Collins, the Titans managed to get back into the game late with a two-yard pass to Nate Washington, and a two-point conversion to Kenny Britt. The Titans recovered the onside kick and marched for a desperation heave with 13 seconds left. But that was deflected by Bryant McFadden, and Lawrence Timmons wrangled Johnson on an ensuing screen play to end it.

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