Steelers Report Card: Game 5 vs. Titans
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Playing with a sprained left foot, Ben Roethlisberger threw TD passes on the first three possessions and finished with 228 yards and five TDs, tying his career high. Roethlisberger executed a lot of quick-rhythm passes, targeting 11 receivers, and finished it off with a 40-yard scoring pass to Mike Wallace. His only mistake: A botched spike when he was intercepted.
RUNNING BACKS A
It didn't seem to matter that Rashard Mendenhall was kept on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Not when Jonathan Dwyer set up the third TD with a 76-yard run and finished with 107 yards on 11 carries -- the first 100-yard rusher of the season. Isaac Redman had 23 of his 49 yards on four carries on the fourth TD drive as the Steelers rushed for a season-best 174 yards.
WIDE RECEIVERS A
Hines Ward got involved with the offense again, catching a game-high seven passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Wallace put the finishing touches on a six-catch performance with a 40-yard TD. And eight receivers caught passes, including TE Heath Miller, who had the first TD and also caught a 20-yarder to set up the fourth TD.
OFFENSIVE LINE A
LT Max Starks got a game ball for the way he performed in his first start after three days' practice, leading a unit that allowed just one sack after allowing 14 in the first four games. What's more, the run game averaged 6.2 yards per attempt. Doug Legursky, who started for LG Chris Kemoeatu, threw the big block on the counter play that sprang Dwyer on his 76-yard run.
DEFENSIVE LINE B
They adjusted quickly to the stretch play after Chris Johnson gained 21 yards on the first carry. After that, he gained only 30 yards on 13 carries as the Titans finished with 66 yards on 18 carries. NT Chris Hoke was very active playing for Casey Hampton, rookie DE Cam Heyward had a sack and forced an intentional grounding, and DE Brett Keisel batted the pass that LaMarr Woodley intercepted.
Playing without James Harrison on the right side, the defense needed a big performance from Woodley -- and got it. He had 1 1/2 sacks on QB Matt Hasselbeck, who had been sacked only four times, and also came up with a big interception after the Titans recovered an onside kick. His pick was the first by the Steelers and only their second takeaway this season.
DEFENSIVE BACKS B
Sure, Hasselbeck passed for 262 yards, but 150 of those came after the score was 28-3. He had only 76 yards in the first half, when the score was 21-3. The secondary did a good job preventing big plays, allowing only one pass longer than 20 yards -- a 25-yarder to set up their first TD. Troy Polamalu had nine tackles, but a pass interference on fourth down led to the Titans' final TD.
SPECIAL TEAMS B-
What looked like an outstanding performance by the unit quickly dissipated when the Titans recovered an onside kick and blocked a punt, the latter leading to a TD. But Daniel Sepulveda's pass to Ryan Mundy on a fake punt kept alive the second TD drive. Antonio Brown's 52-yard kickoff return after an opening field goal was just the jump-start the team needed.
Everything went right. The offense said it needed to start helping out the defense, and it did just that with a solid mix of running and passing. The defense didn't allow a play longer than 25 yards and came up with a big takeaway. The fake punt call by Mike Tomlin was just the kind of juice the team needed. So was Tomlin's challenge on a third-down incompletion to keep alive the first scoring drive.
First Published October 10, 2011 12:00 am