October 9, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: The Pittsburgh Steelers offense against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Tennessee Titans to Renew Rivalry with Pittsburgh Steelers


With the game out of reach and the clock winding down, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass. His Pittsburgh Steelers trailed the Tennessee Titans 14-24 with 37 seconds to play at LP Field, so Roethlisberger hurled the ball downfield to Hines Ward, hoping for a miracle. The pass was intercepted by Titans safety Michael Griffin, who brought it back 83 yards for a score. He trotted into the end zone with only 16 seconds remaining, but it is what happened next that cemented Dec. 21, 2008, in history.

Somehow, a few Titans had gotten their hands on a “Terrible Towel,” a cherished symbol within the Steelers organization and fan base. First, LenDale White and Bo Scaife stomped it. Then Keith Bulluck got in on the act. There are even pictures of Jevon Kearse blowing his nose with the yellow rag.

The Titans showed no respect for their opponents, and why should they have? Tennessee’s 13-2 record was the best in football at the time and the team had just handed a fellow playoff team a 17-point loss. However, the Titans’ late-game sideline antics – coupled with their unexpectedly hasty exit from the playoffs, despite having home-field advantage – prompted some to speculate that Tennessee had brought “The Curse of the Terrible Towel” upon itself.

In each of the next three seasons, the Titans lost to the Steelers. In 2009, on Thursday night of Week 1, Tennessee kicked off the season with a heartbreaking 13-10 overtime loss as Rob Bironas missed one field goal and had another blocked. The team would go on to lose each of its next five games as well, including that unforgettable 59-0 shellacking against the Patriots in Week 6.

The Titans lost another one-score game against the Steelers in 2010, this time by the score of 19-11. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown brought the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, but the Titans didn’t reach the end zone until the the game’s final minute. Tennessee closed the year at 6-10 after losing eight of its final nine games.

The most lopsided game in the series since the Titans’ 2008 victory came in 2011 when the Steelers won 38-17. Following that Week 5 matchup, both teams sat at 3-2. Pittsburgh went on to finish 12-4, while the Titans posted a 9-7 record and were the best team in the NFL to miss the playoffs.

Finally, Tennessee broke the “curse” on the leg of Bironas in 2012. The same kicker who underperformed in the overtime loss three years earlier made all four of his attempts, including the game-winner as time expired. The Titans won 26-23.

The Titans will face off against the Steelers once again as they open their season Sept. 8 in Pittsburgh. Though the Steelers have an edge in the all-time series, the perennial AFC North power was only 8-8 last season and lost more talent through age and free agency than it gained. I would not be surprised to see the Titans win, but I just hope Tennessee does not bring another “curse” upon itself in the process.

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  • Mark Perrette

    Titans don’t have a prayer aginst the steelers in the season opener

    • Ben Greene

      Interesting. What makes you say that?

      • Mark Perrette

        1 I’m a die hard steelers fan, have been since Ben roethlisberger was a rookie, 2 never underestimate the steelers, they will prove you wrong and 3 they have talent to get it done, starting with Big Ben

        • Ben Greene

          It should be a closer game than I think you are expecting. These two teams often play each other very close and the Steeler offense lost a lot since last season.

        • Mike Lee Palacios

          mark is right big ben is the kings of kings heart of diamonds main event showstopper mackdaddy legendary legacy franchise underdog underachiever ben back injured or not pitts going make name for themsleves ben nobody can stop the monster rothlisberger greene mark my terrortory with ben on field tians have no chance in hell win and that the truth behind the brawl

  • Milliken Steeler

    On offense we have the talent however, im not sure of the gel time. When Heath gets back, how often we will use the dangerous Mr Wheaton at the beginning, when does Bell come back because Felix Jones gets hurt a lot?

    Our O-line will get better and better if,….they stay healthy and play together.

    We’re I’m confident, very confident is the defense. Moving on from Casey was a big plus, he just doesn’t take conditioning seriously and with his weight and getting older he faded quickly the last two seasons. Steve Mclendon is an instant improvement who can push that line back into the backfield.

    Troy P and Woodley look healthy and have been flying around again. Add Jarvis Jones who has caused or been a part of a turnover in every pre season game he played in and Shamarko Thomas into that mix? I see turnovers coming back into the fold with the Steeler D.

    I don’t think the The Titan Offense against the Steeler defense is a good match up for the Titans. Until Jake shows me consistency, I can’t say I see them scoring more than 14 points and I don’t think that’s going to be enough.

    • Ben Greene

      I think this Steeler team will show some talent nearer to the end of the season, but this Week 1 matchup does not help them, especially with the injuries in their running game and to Miller. Also, Sanders and Brown will really need to step up to fill the void Wallace left behind. Quite frankly, their offense is very underwhelming.

      On defense, Jarvis Jones will be a young asset, but the rest of that squad is frighteningly old. The Titans’ young offensive playmakers might just surprise you come Sunday. But you’re right, if Locker has a bad game, the Titans stand no chance.

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