AFC North

Steelers Top Titans 19-13

T.J. Watt
(Photo by the Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Steelers top the Titans 19-13 on Sunday, December 19th. The win was led by the defense which forced four turnovers and one turnover on downs to seal the game at the end. The win puts the Steelers at 7-6-1 and still in the hunt for the playoffs.

The Offense

The Pittsburgh offense was certainly struggling with only one touchdown scored on the day. That touchdown came on a one-yard QB sneak by Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger was 16-25 for 148 yards in this one. He didn’t throw an interception or a touchdown in the game.

The running game also did not get going. Running Back Najee Harris carried the ball 12 times for just 18 yards, easily his worst game of the season. He also could not get going in the passing game, earning just two catches for eight yards. Harris and Roethlisberger often were not on the same page as they attempted multiple screens that they could not connect on.

The rest of the passing game also left a lot to be desired with no receiver making more than five catches or gaining more than 40 yards. Dionte Johnson led the way with five catches for 38 yards.

The offensive woes continued in this game. And unfortunately the Steelers didn’t even have their usual fourth quarter surge to rely on. In total the team only gained 12 first downs, ran just 45 plays, and possessed the ball for only 20:52 of game time, nearly half of that of the Titans.

The Defense

It was a good day for the Steeler defense. Any time you can hold an opponent under two touchdowns is a victory, no matter the circumstances. The low score was thanks to four turnovers committed by the Titans. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw an interception and fumbled the ball twice, one recovered by Pittsburgh. Anthony Firkser and Racey McMath each had a fumble recovered by Pittsburgh as well.

T.J. Watt led the way once again with 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. Watt is now the Steelers Single Season Sack Record Holder with 17. He’s done so in just 11 games, and now has three more to try and break the NFL Single Season Sack Record of 22.5 held by Michael Strahan.

Cameron Heyward was also a force in this one. He had six tackles and 0.5 sack but was consistently behind the line of scrimmage impacting plays. Safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds had a combined 24 tackles as well. An impressive stat for them, but also a mark of this team’s trouble tackling close to the line of scrimmage. Fitzpatrick also had one of the team’s fumble recoveries.

Joe Haden had the third fumble recovery, and also had the key fourth-down tackle to end the game. It was Haden’s first game back since the Detroit Lions game on November, 14th.

Also making an impact was Chris Wormley who had a sack on the first play of the game, Joe Schobert who made the interception off of a tipped ball by Taco Charlton, and Devin Bush who had multiple tipped passes in coverage.

It was nice to see Bush and Schobert make an impact in the pass game, however neither made big strides today against the run, or in the tackling department. Pittsburgh’s rush defense continued to be a weak point, allowing over 200 yards on the ground.

Special Teams

There were highs and lows with the Special Teams units in this one. Chris Boswell was the offense going 4/5 on field goals and 1/1 on extra points. His lone miss was a 57-yard attempt to end the first half that missed by just a yard.

Rookie Punter Pressley Harvin III continued his struggles in this one. He had five punts on the day with an average of under 40 yards per punt. His punts went for 27, 51, 32, 40, and 49 yards.

Unfortunately, his longest punt was returned 55 yards and included an additional 10-yard penalty by Pittsburgh. This put the Titans in position for their sole touchdown on the day.

In Conclusion

We’ll have to see how the other AFC North teams do this week, but the Steelers certainly still have a chance at the division. And with the AFC bloodbath sure the continue in the final month the Wild Card spots are also up for grabs.

Despite the struggles by the offense and run D in this one, it was encouraging to see some splash plays by the defense. The Steelers will need to be clicking on all cylinders next week when they face the Kansas City Chiefs.

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