The Pittsburgh Steelers take a 10-0 lead into the second half, Ben Roethlisberger connecting on a long touchdown pass with Justin Hunter. Roethlisberger looked a bit off on a few throws, out of sync with Jesse James and some deep-pass inaccuracy, but ultimately played well, 11-18 for 114 yards. Also had a drop in there.
Landry Jones spelled him but the offense only scored three points under him at the end of the half when they were given a short field. Another short-field opportunity was wiped out when Hunter lost a pass out of his hands that a Titans defender grabbed for an ‘interception’.
Matthew Thomas, who got defensive playing time in the first half, recorded the stop on the opening kickoff at the 17. Mariota was chased out of the pocket to throw the ball away by Anthony Chickillo. Terrell Edmunds made the tackle after seven yards on the ground to set up a third and three. Cameron Heyward got the sack to match Stephon Tuitt’s in the first half, forcing an early three and out.
Mason Rudolph started the second half, handing off to Jaylen Samuels and making a defender miss, throwing stiff-arms for a good first-down run. At the Titans’ 38, Rudolph came back to him off play-action for a short gain of four. Samuels picked up five to the left on a counter run. On third and one, the rookie back converted up the middle, the line clearing some room.
Sticking with Samuels on the ground, he had no room to run on the fresh set of downs, in fact losing some. Back to Samuels on the dump-off, however, getting 10 yards for a first down, displaying good catch-and-turn action.
Now at the 17, Samuels was officially given two yards up the middle. Rudolph rolled out of the pocket and stayed with the pass, finding Pharoah McKever for what would have been a first and goal, but Okorafor was called for a hold. He got caught for a minor late push that didn’t really affect the play.
Now second and 18, Rudolph stepped through pressure, staring down Nix and waiting for him to get into a route. It worked out, and the fullback picked up some good yardage to make it a manageable third and six. Unfortunately, he took a delay of game to make it third and 11. Tomlin argued that the ball was snapped in time. Samuels took the dump-off for a 17-yard score, but the play came back on a holding call by Marcus Tucker. It was a great play by Samuels.
The end result was a third and seven due to the spot foul. Rudolph scrambled for the first down, but now R.J. Prince was flagged for a hold to make it third and 17. Rudolph again did a nice job of feeling the pressure and setting up his back for a pass, this time Samuels, but there was little chance of them picking up first-down yardage. Chris Boswell made it 13-0 after the pickup.
Brian Allen made a good open-field tackle on a play that was negated by a hold to start the ensuing drive. Blaine Gabbert backed up deep in his own end heaved a deep pass that bounced off his receiver’s outstretched hand incomplete. L.J. Fort made the tackle for a short loss to set up third and 13 at the two.
After forcing a punt, Quadree Henderson got a decent return and then an end-around for a first-down run. Samuels did a great job of following his blockers for 11 to the left on the following play. Bucky Hodges with a block. Now in a heavy set, Samuels slipped for a loss but there wasn’t much running room. Rudolph looked for Damoun Patterson deep on third down but the receiver was well-covered, slowing down the route and resulting in an overthrow. Boswell’s third field goal made it 16-0.
The Titans were once again locked up deep in their own end due to penalty. Keion Adams made a run stop on the ensuing drive. On second and 19, however, Gabbert found a big tight end down the seam for a big gain for the conversion for 33 yards. After a first-down run, Jordan Dangerfield was flagged for taunting as the Titans crossed midfield for the first time since the opening drive, now inside the 30.
The Steelers eventually forced a third and one after making a stop on second and two, but lost the critical short-yardage down. After a short pass to the left flat on first and goal, Gabbert from the four hit his tight end in front of Matakevich for the score, Firkser making a couple of big plays for Tennessee on that drive. On the two-point conversion attempt, the pass was off the hands of Gabbert’s target, incomplete, short of the goal line, making it 16-6.
Rudolph was sacked off play-action on second down, setting up a third and 14. He faced unblocked pressure on the blitz and had to toss the screen early, incomplete, to force a three-and-out.
Farrington Huguenin recorded a sack for the defense following the punt for an 11-yard loss. On second and 21, Gabbert connected with Firkser again for a seam route for 18. Now third and three, Thomas had good coverage on Firkser but couldn’t prevent the first down.
L.J. Fort was robbed of an interception he returned for a touchdown as he wrestled with possession of the pass catcher. He would ultimately get a hit on Gabbert to force a redirected pass that fell incomplete on fourth down. After an offensive three and out, Thomas made another stop on special teams on the punt.
With two minutes to play, Rudolph tucked the ball and scrambled for a few yards to hit the two-minutes warning. He escaped pressure but fired incomplete on third down to force a punt. Patterson got down the field but did not finish the tackle. Lavon Hooks showed up with a sack on the drive. And then Ola Adeniyi cleaned it up with another sack, beating the left tackle. The Steelers did not use their timeout on fourth and 29, leaving themselves with just 23 seconds. The ball was heaved up for a hail mary and was high pointed by Marcus Allen, finally playing, for the interception.