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Tennessee Titans (3-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)
Nashville, TN – The Titans (3-1) carry a three-game winning streak into Pittsburgh this week, as they travel to face the Steelers (2-2) at Heinz Field (capacity 65,500). Kickoff is scheduled for noon CDT on Sunday, October 9th.
Two of the NFL’s top defenses entering Week 5 will be on display. The Titans rank first in the NFL in scoring defense (14.0 points per game by opponents), first in opponents’ yards per play (4.36) and seventh in overall defense (299.8 yards per contest). No team has scored more than 16 points this season against the Titans. Meanwhile, the Steelers are second in total defense (277.0 yards per game) and fifth in scoring defense (18.0 points per game).
This week’s matchup is the 74th all-time meeting between the two franchises, which makes Pittsburgh the Titans’ most recurring opponent (Cincinnati Bengals, 73). The Steelers own a 43-30 advantage in the series, including victories in the two most recent games, played in 2009 and 2010.
This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Greg Gumbel will handle play-by-play duties, while Dan Dierdorf will provide analysis.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and gameday host Larry Stone.
Additionally, Sports USA will carry the national radio broadcast. Bob Fitzgerald (play-byplay), Ross Tucker (analyst) and Tony Graziani (sideline reporter) will have the call.
Big Plays Keep titans In Win column
The Titans used big plays in the passing game and on defense to defeat the Browns 31-13 last week at Cleveland.
Matt Hasselbeck completed 10 of 20 passes for 220 yards, three touchdowns and one interception (108.3 passer rating). His longest pass of the game—and tied for the second-longest pass of his career—was an 80-yard touchdown to tight end Jared Cook. Hasselbeck also completed a 57-yard pass to wide receiver Nate Washington.
Running back Chris Johnson gained 101 yards on 23 carries (4.4 avg.), reaching the 100-yard mark for the 25th time in his career.
Defensively, the Titans held the Browns to 13 points despite 40 completions on 61 pass attempts by Colt McCoy—both single-game records against the Titans/Oilers. But McCoy’s lone interception was one of the game’s biggest plays. In the third quarter, safety Jordan Babineaux picked off a McCoy pass and raced 97 yards on the return for a touchdown.
Hasselbeck, who the Titans signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Seahawks on July 29th, arguably is off to the best start of his career. His season totals include 1,152 yards, eight touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 104.7. The yardage total ranks second in franchise history through the first four games of a season, trailing only Warren Moon’s 1,344 yards in Weeks 1–4 of 1990. Hasselbeck also has more touchdown passes through the first four weeks of 2011 than at the same point in any other season in his 13-year career.
The Steelers, who have played three of their first four games on the road, enter this week on the heels of a 17-10 loss at Houston. They rushed for 118 yards in the game, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times and intercepted once in the loss. Texans tailback Arian Foster scored the game-winning touchdown on a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers opened the season with a loss at Baltimore but then won consecutive games at home against Seattle and on the road versus Indianapolis. This will be their third of four consecutive games against AFC South opponents.
Titans-Steelers Series At A Glance
What To Look For This Week
QB Matt Hasselbeck can record the 24th 300-yard passing game of his career.
RB Chris Johnson can record his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game and the 26th 100-yard rushing game of his career.
RB Chris Johnson needs two rushing touchdowns to tie Steve McNair (36 career rushing touchdowns) for third place on the
T Michael Roos is scheduled to make his 101st consecutive start.
G Jake Scott is scheduled to make his 109th consecutive start.
Titans-Steelers Series History
This week’s game is the 74th meeting between the Titans and Steelers in a rivalry that dates back to 1970. The only team the Titans have met with the same frequency is the Cincinnati Bengals, who also have played the Titans 73 times.
In 1970, upon the merger of the American Football League and the National Football League, the Steelers and then-Oilers began play in the newly-formed AFC Central Division.
For the next 32 years (1970-2001), they competed at least twice per season with the exception of 1982 (strike-shortened season) before the Titans moved to the AFC South and the Steelers to the AFC North in 2002. Since 1970, there have been only three seasons — 2004, 2006 and 2007 — in which the Titans and Steelers have not played.
The first meeting in 1970, a 19-7 Oilers win, was the first regular season game in Three Rivers Stadium, the Steelers’ home until moving to Heinz Field in 2001.
Although the Steelers lead the series 43-30, the Titans have won the majority of their recent battles. Tennessee has won 12 of the last 18 games, including a seven-game winning streak from 1997-2000 and a three-game winning streak from 2002-05. That includes a 34-31 Titans victory in a 2002 Divisional Playoff contest.
In addition to Tennessee’s 2002 playoff victory, there have been three other postseason games between the teams. They played back-to-back AFC Championship Games following the 1978 and 1979 seasons, with Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” prevailing both times against the “Luv Ya Blue!” Oilers. The Oilers also lost a 1989 Wild Card Game in overtime against the Steelers.
Most recently, the Titans hosted the Steelers in Week 2 of the 2010 campaign. The Steelers forced seven turnovers and ultimately prevailed 19-11. Tennessee’s lone touchdown came on a Kerry Collins pass to Nate Washington.
Titans-Steelers: The Last Meeting
Pittsburgh Steelers 19 at Tennessee Titans 11
In Week 2, the Titans were victimized by a series of mishaps and an unwavering Pittsburgh Steelers defense, leading to a 19-11 loss at LP Field.
Although they managed to out-gain the Steelers 238 yards to 127, the Titans were intercepted three times and lost four fumbles. In addition to the seven turnovers—their highest number in a game since 2000 (November 19th against Cleveland)—they also committed 11 penalties and allowed four sacks.
Despite their woes, the Titans found themselves in position to drive for the potential game tying touchdown and two-point conversion in the final seconds.
Trailing 19-3 with five minutes remaining in the game, the Titans began a drive on their own 15-yard line. Kerry Collins, who entered the game in relief of starter Vince Young, led a 17-play drive that featured three conversions on third down and one on fourth down. With a minute left on the clock, he found Nate Washington in the end zone for a two-yard touchdown pass—the Titans’ only touchdown of the game. Collins then completed a pass to Kenny Britt in the end zone for a two-point conversion.
Colin Allred recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Titans, and Collins completed a 30-yard pass to Justin Gage to give them a first down at the Pittsburgh 31-yard line with 20 seconds on the clock. On second-and-10, Collins tried to complete a pass to Washington in the end zone, but it was broken up by Bryant McFadden and Ryan Clark. After two false start penalties on the Titans and a completion to Chris Johnson, time expired.
The Titans played from behind the entire game. The Steelers jumped in front quickly, taking the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Mewelde Moore fielded the kick and then handed the ball on a reverse to Antonio Brown, who was credited with the final 89 yards on the play.
On the subsequent kickoff return, Marc Mariani fumbled at the 40-yard line, and Keyaron Fox recovered for the Steelers. However, the Titans took the ball back after Will Witherspoon knocked the ball away from Dennis Dixon on a sack. Dave Ball recovered the fumble, and six plays later Rob Bironas put the Titans on the scoreboard with a 21-yard field goal.
A 38-yard punt return by Mariani gave the Titans good field position on their next drive, and they moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 16. But Steelers safety Troy Polamalu intercepted a Vince Young pass in the end zone, and the Steelers offense drove down the field for a 36-yard field goal by Jeff Reed.
Another turnover cost the Titans in the final two minutes of the first half. A Lawrence Timmons hit caused a fumble by Johnson, and after a recovery by James Harrison, Reed booted a 34-yard field goal to put the Steelers ahead 13-3 going into halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Reed added a 25-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the Steelers ahead 16-3.
Collins then entered the game for the Titans. Young threw two interceptions and lost a fumble prior to exiting, and the Steelers treated Collins with equal hostility. His first three drives ended with an interception, punt and lost fumble, the latter of which resulted in a 27-yard field goal by Reed, the Steelers’ final score of the game.
Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. He was replaced by Charlie Batch, who finished the game with five completions for 25 yards on 11 attempts. The 21 net yards passing allowed by the Titans were the fewest since 2000 (December 25th against Dallas).
Topics104-5 The Zone, Antonio Brown, Arian Foster, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Bob Fitzgerald, Bryant McFadden, CBS, Charlie Batch, Chris Johnson, Cinncinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Cody Allison, Collin Allred, Colt McCoy, Dan Dierdorf, Dave Ball, Dennis Dixon, Frank Wycheck, Greg Gumbel, Heinz Field, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jake Scott, James Harrison, Jared Cook, Jeff Reed, Jordan Babineaux, Justin Gage, Kenny Britt, Kerry Collins, Keyaron Fox, Larry Stone, Lawrence Timmons, LP field, Marc Mariani, Matt hasselbeck, Mewelde Moore, Michael Roos, Mike Keith, Mike Munchak, Mike Tomlin, Nashville TN, Nat Washington, Nate Washington, National Football League, NFL, Pittsburgh PA, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob Bironas, Ross Tucker, Ryan Clark, Seattle Seahawks, Sports USA, Tennessee Titans, Titans, Tony Graziani, Troy Polamalu, Vince Young, Warren Moon, Will Witherspoon, WTVF NewsChannel 5
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