Nashville, Tennessee – The Pittsburgh Steelers stand alone as the AFC’s last undefeated team thanks to a dominant start and a bit of late luck.
Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to Diontae Johnson, and the Steelers remained perfect by holding off Tennessee for a 27-24 victory Sunday in a game postponed three weeks after the Titans came down with the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak of the season.
In a matchup of the conference’s two remaining unbeaten teams, the Titans rallied by scoring 17 straight after being smothered in the first half.
They failed to complete the comeback when Stephen Gostkowski, who made a 51-yarder earlier, missed wide right from 45 yards with 14 seconds left, sending the Steelers running around the field in celebration and stunning the Titans (5-1). Even Roethlisberger appeared shocked the four-time Pro Bowl kicker missed.
“Oh, man. I mean, I was surprised he missed it,” Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “Our idea was to go into overtime. A good kicker. It’s tough. It’s good for us.”
The Steelers improved to 6-0 for their best start since 1978, when Pittsburgh won its first seven on the way to the Super Bowl. This was just the fifth time undefeated teams met in Week 7 or later, and the winner of the previous four all made the Super Bowl.
“We feel we have a really good football team,” Roethlisberger said. “We feel we can be really special … That’s going to be a short-lived happiness because we know what’s coming next.”
That would be matchup with the rival Ravens.
“We are perfect from a record standpoint, and so we respect that,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “We realize that we’ve got AFC North ball on next week on the road. We’re going to a group that has seven days’ advantage on us, so there’s a lot for us to be urgent about.”
Benny Snell Jr. added a 1-yard TD run, and Ray-Ray McCloud set up a touchdown with a 57-yard punt return. Pittsburgh scored at least 26 points for the sixth straight game to tie a stretch in 2015 for the longest in franchise history.
The Steelers were without cornerback Mike Hilton, one of their best blitzers, not that the NFL’s No. 2 defense in both yards and points allowed missed him much. Pittsburgh outgained Tennessee 362-292 and held the NFL’s second-best scoring offense under 31 points for the first time since the opening week of the season.
But the Titans had won four of their first five by rallying in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime, and they appeared ready to add another.
Ryan Tannehill hit A.J. Brown on a short pass that the receiver took to the end zone for a 73-yard TD in the third quarter. Jayon Brown picked off a batted pass, setting up Gostkowski. Then Derrick Henry capped a 12-play drive with a 1-yard TD with 10:13 left to set up the late drama.
The Titans had the chance for another late win after Amani Hooker intercepted Roethlisberger’s pass to Smith-Schuster in the back of the end zone with 2:35 left. It was Roethlisberger’s third of the game, which Tennessee turned into only a field goal.
Gostkowski had won the first three games this season for Tennessee with late field goals.
“It was a gut punch to see that kick go wide right,” Tannehill said. “Had a ton of confidence going out there that Stephen was going to nail that kick. Unfortunately, obviously, it was a little bit wide.”
Gostkowski said the kick was headed down the middle until it faded right late.
“Just very disappointed to let the team down like that,” Gostkowski said. “I was confident going out there but didn’t get it done.”
Lions 23, Falcons 22
In Atlanta, Detroit let the Falcons score a touchdown. It worked — and Atlanta found another stunning way to lose.
Matthew Stafford connected with T.J. Hockenson on an 11-yard touchdown pass as time expired and Matt Prater booted a 48-yard extra point to give Detroit the improbable victory. The Lions (3-3) won their second in a row — their first winning streak since early in the 2019 season.
Trailing 16-14, the Falcons (1-6) were positioned to run down the clock and kick a chip-shot field goal for the win when they picked up a first down at the Lions 10 with just over a minute remaining.
Detroit had used up all its timeouts on the drive, so there was no further way to stop the clock. Knowing their only chance was to allow a quick TD, the Lions made no attempt to stop Todd Gurley after he took a handoff from Matt Ryan.
Gurley realized what the Lions were doing — but too late. He started to fall but landed on the goal line with 1:04 remaining.
The Falcons converted a 2-point conversion to make it 22-16, but the Lions still had a chance against a team that had already become the first in NFL history to lose two straight games when leading by at least 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Stafford drove his team 75 yards in eight plays. Detroit spiked the ball with 2 seconds to go, setting up the final play. Stafford was pressured in the pocket, rolled to his left and spotted Hockenson breaking free across the end zone.
Buccaneers 45, Raiders 20
In Las Vegas, Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes to move past Drew Brees for the most in NFL history and ran for another to lead Tampa Bay past Las Vegas.
Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter and on a perfectly placed 33-yarder to Scotty Miller later in the first half. He then helped seal the game with the throw to Chris Godwin that put the Bucs (5-2) up 31-20 midway through the fourth quarter.
Brady added a fourth to rookie Tyler Johnson with 3:08 to play to give him 559 in his career, passing Brees for the most ever. Brees threw two earlier in the day for New Orleans.
Browns 37, Bengals 34
In Cincinnati, Baker Mayfield overcame a terrible start to throw for five touchdowns, including a 24-yard go-ahead score to Donovan Peoples-Jones with 15 seconds left.
Nursing sore ribs, Mayfield started 0 for 5 — including an interception on his first attempt of the game. He then completed 22 of his next 23 passes. The last was the leaping grab by People-Jones to win it for the Browns (5-2).
Saints 27, Panthers 24
Chiefs 43, Broncos 16
49ers 33, Patriots 6
Chargers 39 Jaguars 20
Packers 35, Texans 20
Washington 25, Cowboys 3
Bills 18, Jets 10
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