The Tennessee Titans had a rare Monday Night Football opportunity when they hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in Music City at LP Field on November 17, 2014. It was a bitterly cold night in Nashville and that’s how the Titans began the game too.
The Titans entered the game as an underdog, no big shocker there, but there were quite a few people who held out hope – myself included. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had never won in Nashville entering Monday’s game and the Steelers have had a bad history of “playing down” to teams with inferior records.
The game started off strongly in the Steelers favor as the Steelers went down the field and quickly scored a field goal by K Shaun Suisham. On the next series when the Titans offense took to the field for the first time the Titans big-armed rookie QB Zach Mettenberger threw an interception on a pass that was intended for WR Justin Hunter as he tripped on his route which led Steelers CB William Gay to an easy pick six.
Scoreboard: Steelers 10 Titans 0
Moving ahead, Mettenberger and the Titans quickly shrugged off the terrible start and drove down the field to cap off a nice looking drive with a run, that in my opinion, was rookie RB Bishop Sankey‘s best run of the year with a 9 yard score that showed speed, power, and determination.
Scoreboard: Steelers 10 Titans 7
The two teams went back an forth before Steelers settled for another Suisham field goal to take a 6 point advantage.
End of 1st Quarter
Scoreboard: Steelers 13 Titans 7
The second quarter belonged to the Titans as the Titans scored on a K Ryan Succup field goal which brought the Titans within 3 points of the Steelers. However, it was what happened with under a minute to play that truly had the Titans its’ fans on their feet at LP Field – myself included in the freezing cold.
As the Steelers were in the Titans red zone Steelers QB Roethlisberger threw an interception which was caught by Titans CB Jason McCourty. With 44 seconds left in the half, I expected HC Ken Whisenhunt to run the ball and the clock out, but he actually surprised me as the Titans had three timeouts left.
Nov 17, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington (85) flips the ball toward the fans as he scores a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers on a long pass from Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger (not pictured) during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Mettenberger brought the offense out in a set and former Steelers WR and now Titans veteran WR Nate Washington did a hook-and-go route on which the two connected for an 80 yard score. This brought the Titans crowd to it’s feet and the crowd was going wild. No timeouts needed.
Scoreboard: Titans 17 Steelers 13
In the third quarter the Titans scored the only touchdown when Mettenberger scored a short 4 yard, but great catch by Titans TE Chase Coffman. He went up and attacked the ball and came down hard but he secured the ball and the Titans took a comfortable 11 point lead.
Unfortunately the Titans scoring ended there and we come to find out how quick the tides can turn.
End of 3rd quarter
Scoreboard: Titans 24 Steelers 13
The fourth quarter was owned by the veteran Steelers team. I knew that if we played too conservative and let the Steelers get life, that Big Ben would rally the Steelers and lead them to a triumphant victory on the road. I was right and wrong. The Steelers had to lean on RB Le’Veon Bell as he carried the ball 33 times for 204 yards and 1 touchdown.
The Titans could not stop Bell. The Steelers caught on and rode Bell to victory. The Steelers scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter that would seal the victory for them. The first being a rushing touchdown by Bell and the second being a great catch by WR Antonio Brown from Roethlisberger.
The game is easily won and clock managed by the Steelers as they repeatedly hand off the ball to Bell and it appears the Titans’ defense can’t stop a runny nose.
Final: Steelers 27 Titans 24
Here’s what I really want to say. The Titans showed fight and promise in the national spotlight. I see progress with the team but it still wasn’t enough. I have contact with hundreds of Titans fans who have opinions, that they are entitled too, and they are all over the spectrum. I love seeing people support the team in a season where we are 2-8 after unrealistic expectations were set during the offseason by Coach Whisenhunt, but what I do not like like is people saying, “At least we were competitive.” I agree, yes we were competitive, but we do not play this game for moral victories. We play to win the game.
Don’t think that for one second that if the Steelers lost they would’ve said “at least we looked competitive, it was close.” No. No they would not. This league is based on one thing and one thing only – WINNING. Yes, I am very happy the Titans cut down the careless penalties. Yes, I am very happy rookie QB Mettenberger looks like he has the chops to be our long term answer at the QB position. But no, I do not like that we squandered a double digit lead in a game we played good football and should’ve won. We played very conservative in the fourth quarter and it cost us the game.
Our team has made progress, no doubt about it, but we are still losing. We are 2-8 on the season. The only thing that is good for is April’s draft.
Let’s look at the games this season. We have either been blown out or surrendered a lead. We almost let the Jacksonville Jaguars beat us. Thank heavens we got lucky and blocked the kick. We dominated the Cleveland Browns in every facet of the game and surrendered the lead in that one too.
If we aren’t a come-from-behind team and we aren’t a maintain-the-lead team, what kind of team are we?