Steelers force 7 turnovers to beat Titans 19-11
Mike Tomlin and his Pittsburgh Steelers have heard all the talk about Ben Roethlisberger's four-game suspension and how they'll be lucky to go 2-2 without him.
All that gab simply made the Steelers mad.
The Steelers forced seven turnovers and came up with four sacks, Jeff Reed kicked four field goals and Pittsburgh beat the Tennessee Titans 19-11 Sunday.
''Regardless of our demise being reported, we expect to win,'' Tomlin said. ''We're pleased that we're 2-0, but we're not astounded by it. We're capable and we're a little bit annoyed, to be quite honest, at the pre-reporting of our death.''
Steelers linebacker James Farrior said Tomlin has been mad the past couple weeks at the thought his team would fold without Roethlisberger.
''So he has been taking it out on us, and we have been taking it out on the other teams,'' Farrior said.
Boy, have they.
The Steelers intercepted Vince Young twice and sacked him, forcing him to fumble for a third turnover. That was enough for Titans coach Jeff Fisher to bench him, hoping backup Kerry Collins might spark his team. Bryant McFadden intercepted a Collins' pass to end his first series, and the Steelers recovered a Collins' fumble.
Collins did rally the Titans (1-1) late, tossing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington with 58 seconds left along with a 2-point conversion pass to Kenny Britt. The Titans even recovered an onside kick, but McFadden broke up Collins' pass to Washington in the end zone, and Chris Johnson was tackled after a short pass to end the game.
Fisher said Young will start when Tennessee visits the New York Giants.
''I thought we were better than that, and we will learn from it and hang together and bounce back,'' Fisher said.
Pittsburgh came into the game having allowed an NFL-low 825 points since the start of the 2007 season. The Steelers came in determined to stop Johnson, the NFL's leading rusher since 2008. They did just that, holding him to 34 yards on 16 carries to snap his streak of 100-yard games at 12 straight. Johnson fell two shy of Barry Sanders' NFL-mark of 14 straight in 1997.
''We just wanted to keep him contained to where he could not scat out and run around us,'' Steelers linebacker James Harrison said.
Johnson did break loose for an 85-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but a holding penalty wiped it off the board. He called that a ''dagger'' in their hearts.
''It came to an end, but the most disappointing thing was not getting the victory ...,'' Johnson said of his streak. ''That is more important than anything. We're 1-1 now, so we have to get ready for next week and New York.''
The Steelers stunned the Titans at the start when Mewelde Moore caught the kickoff, ran 8 yards and then handed off to rookie Antonio Brown who came around on a reverse and went 89 yards untouched for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Pittsburgh then got the first of those turnovers on the ensuing kickoff, stripping rookie Marc Mariani of the ball.
Dennis Dixon hurt his left knee early, pushing fourth-string quarterback Charlie Batch onto the field.
Tennessee kept Pittsburgh out of the end zone, forcing the Steelers to settle for Reed's field goals, each coming after a turnover. The Titans had four sacks of their own but came up with only one of Pittsburgh's four fumbles. They held the Steelers to 127 yards offense.
Tomlin said he didn't know who would start at quarterback next week. The Steelers could re-sign Byron Leftwich, released Saturday so they could add a defensive lineman. Batch said he'd like to start.
Fisher complimented Tomlin for finding a way to win with Dixon's injury and Batch likely not getting much practice time.
''This is the second week in a row that their defense has put them in position to win games,'' he said.