The phrase of the week was, “hacked off” and the Steelers played just that way in their 38-17 win against the Tennessee Titans today at Heinz Field. The Steelers established the run early and mixed in various short passes on their way to compiling 435 yards of total offense.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a career game high 5 touchdown passes with two going to Hines Ward and one each to Mike Wallace, Heath Miller and David Johnson. On the afternoon Roethlisberger was 24 of 34 for 228 yards. His lone interception came late in the first half on a hurry up play that looked full of confusion.
Wallace led all wide receivers in yardage as he pulled down 6 of 7 intended passes for 82 yards and his long 40-yard touchdown catch came late in the game to seal the victory.
Isaac Redman got the start in place of the injured Rashard Mendenhall at running back and carried 15 times for 49 yards. Despite just having a 3.3 yards per carry average, Redman had several very tough inside runs that enabled the Steelers to put play action to use. Jonathan Dwyer spelled Redman several times and carried 11 times for 107 yards that included a 76 yard run on his very first carry.
The offensive line had a great game as Roethlisberger was sacked just once on the afternoon and they allowed very limited pressure on the day. Max Starks started at left tackle after being re-signed this past Wednesday and played well above the line. Jonathan Scott came in at right tackle after Marcus Gilbert left with a shoulder injury and played well.
The Steelers defense got off to a rough start but tightened up quickly. The Titans drove the length of the field for an opening drive field goal after the Steelers committed a few costly early penalties. Titans running back Chris Johnson rushed for just 51 yards on 14 carries and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed 29 passes on 49 attempts for 262 yards. Most of those yards came later in the game as the Steelers were in a dime defense with a deep zone coverage. Hasselbeck was sacked 3 times on the day as Cameron Heyward, LaMarr Woodley and Ziggy Hood all got in on the action. Woodley recorded 1.5 sacks and intercepted a pass after it was tipped by Brett Keisel. James Farrior led the Steelers with 13 combined tackles and the defense held the Titans to 7 of 15 on 3rd downs. Chris Hoke, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, William Gay and Keenan Lewis all had strong afternoons.
Special teams also played a huge role in the win as punter Daniel Sepulveda had a huge fake punt pass completion to Ryan Mundy with 12:40 left in the first half. That drive culminated 2 plays later with the first of two touchdown passes from Roethlisberger to Ward.
The Steelers move to 3-2 on the season and host the Jacksonville Jaguars next week.
I will have more complete observations on the game after I go back through the tape a second time. You can listed to the Mike Tomlin post game press conference here.