NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - This time, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat their struggling opponent.
Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell were an impressive duo in Music City on Monday night.
Roethlisberger threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with 9:01 left, lifting the Steelers to a 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Pittsburgh (7-4) staged an impressive rally in the second half to take sole possession of second in the successful AFC North heading into the bye. Bell ran for 204 yards and a TD, and William Gay returned an interception 28 yards for a score. Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals.
“Not a perfect night but really a great night for us in that we were down by 11, and we had an opportunity to bounce back,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “And I think anytime you can do that and gain victory you grow from it and grow from it in the right ways.”
Bell had 33 carries in the best game by a Steelers running back since 2010.
“When 26 gets the ball in his hands you never know what’s going to happen, and it’s awesome,” Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger had never beaten the Titans at LP Field, missing the Steelers’ win here in 2010. With Bell running through and over the Titans, the Steelers took the pressure off Big Ben by holding the ball for 39 minutes, 49 seconds with a 386-312 edge in total offense.
“He got rolling, and we couldn’t make a play and that’s disappointing,” Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “That’s the way it went. We tried a lot of different things to try to stop their run game.”
Tennessee (2-8) blew a 24-13 lead in their fourth consecutive loss. The Titans sacked Roethlisberger five times and intercepted a pass in the end zone. Zach Mettenberger threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, and fellow rookie Bishop Sankey ran for another score.
But Tennessee’s offense fizzled in the fourth quarter. When Pittsburgh got the ball back with 6:58 left, the Steelers didn’t give it back and knelt out for the win.
“We feel very close,” Mettenberger said. “We’re not doing enough to win football games. That’s the bottom line and the most important thing. But rookie running back, rookie left tackle, rookie quarterback, rookie middle linebacker. We’re doing a lot of good things.”
Mettenberger and the Titans got off to an awful start, and then erased a 10-0 deficit with an impressive flurry.
Suisham had a 49-yarder for the first score of the game, and Gay picked off Mettenberger on the Titans’ first offensive play and returned it for the TD.
Roethlisberger had been intercepted only five times this season. But Jason McCourty picked off a pass intended for Brown in the end zone with 44 seconds left in the first half.
The Titans called timeout, and then Mettenberger threw to a wide-open Nate Washington, who beat Gay with a stutter-step on his way to an 80-yard TD.