The Tennessee Titans Week 1 showdown will begin in Pittsburgh. In 2008, the Titans earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-14. Keith Bulluck, LenDale White and Jevon Kearse decided to stomp on the Steelers’ “Terrible Towel,” blowing their noses with it.
The so called “Curse of the Terrible Towel” was among us. The Titans lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the 2008-09 playoffs, 13-10. Since then, the Steelers have won three of the last four matchups.
Last season, the Titans broke the Terrible Towel curse when Rob Bironas hit a game-winning field goal as time expired. Much like the Titans last year, the Steelers were banged up and Matt Hasselbeck started that game. But a win’s a win.
These teams aren’t in the same division anymore. Regardless, this is a must-win game for many reasons.
This rivalry is still here and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. The Titans want to smack them in the mouth every time they play them. Same goes for the Steelers. The Steelers felt completely disrespected after that 2008 showing on the sidelines. They should. This is a team that possesses a very smart head coach and players.
The Steelers have an act for getting under the skin of undeveloped quarterbacks. Remember when Vince Young would face them? Not pretty. Locker will be tested quickly against a veteran defensive unit including William Gay, Ike Taylor, and Troy Polamalu in the secondary. These guys have an act for finding the football. If Jake stares down his receivers too long, then they will have a field day.
This will be important for Locker’s development. If the Titans win this game and Locker’s stat line looks good, then the Titans and fans can feel better about their quarterback. It’s only the first game but this really is a huge test.
The Steelers have won 10 consecutive home-openers. That’s impressive. If the Titans can break that streak, then it could mean this team is for real. The Steelers will be without running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell showed how good he can be while playing at Michigan State. He could’ve really helped the Steelers run game.
Isaac Redman and Felix Jones will receive the majority of carries. This will be a test to see if the Titans run defense has improved from last season. If Redman and Jones run all over them, then how confident would you be with the run defense going forward?
If the Titans can win this game by stopping the run, this will show some hope. Last season, everyone was running on the Titans including a familiar name around here now, Jackie Battle. Beating Pittsburgh will give them huge momentum going into Houston. More importantly, a win would be a tiebreaker if both teams are in the wild-card hunt.
We will get a chance to see how well this new run game looks against this defense. The Steelers ranked seventh against the run last season. This will be another huge success if the Titans can go into Pittsburgh and run the ball down their throats. This would show how good the offensive line and running backs are. We’ll see decent matchups between Jason McCourty vs. Antonio Brown plus Alterraun Verner vs. Emmanuel Sanders. What can the Titans secondary do against mid-level wide outs?
There are many more reasons this is a must win. One week from today, the Titans will stand in front of a sold out Pittsburgh crowd with tons of momentum on the opponents side. These players are hungry for action and they want to beat up on the Titans.
Every game is a must win. This one is special.