Steelers Crush Titans on a Turnover Filled Thursday
A Familiar Face
From the start of Thursday night’s opening drive, it was evident just how deep the chasm between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans is. Antonio Brown caught three touchdowns while torching Logan Ryan and the Titans secondary for 144 of yards.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 299 passing yards and four touchdowns, systematically picking the Titans defense apart. There is no doubt that Roethlisberger was familiar with the defensive scheme of Titan’s defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, formally of the Steelers.
LeBeau had to assume that the Steelers would know his scheme in and out. At times Roethlisberger could be heard calling it out at the line of scrimmage. For LeBeau to leave his familiar scheme and signals unchanged is baffling.
A Mismatch On Both Sides Of The Ball
The Titans defensive youth was exposed by a Steelers team full of veteran skill players. The Titan front seven couldn’t generate much of a pass rush on Roethlisberger, and they paid dearly for it.
For all the talk surrounding Mike Mularkey‘s exotic smashmouth style, the offense sputtered mightily. In a game that quarterback Marcus Mariota struggled in, the lack of protection was obvious. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry did what they could on the ground, but once the Steelers pulled away, game-flow took them out of the equation.
Mularkey’s aggressive ground-and-pound attack only works when the score is close. The Titans are not built to play from behind, especially against a team like the Steelers. Tight end Delanie Walker had his best night of the season catching six balls for 92 yards, and rookie Corey Davis made a few good catches of his own, but this receiver corps feels underdeveloped.
A Bright Future
The Titans were exposed as a second-tier team Thursday night. At best they will win the AFC South and maybe fight through the Wild Card Round. Fortunately for them, they only need to contend with the Jacksonville Jaguars to win the South.
The off-season for the Titans will be fascinating. They have a collection of good players but lack a coach who can get the most out of them. The loss Thursday night was both a missed opportunity and a humbling experience. Now that the winning streak is over, hopefully, they can take an honest assessment of who they are.