Steelers and Kenny Pickett exorcise some offensive demons while eking out win over Titans

Tom Cooper

In a thrilling showdown on “Thursday Night Football,” the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to exorcise some offensive demons and secure a hard-fought victory over the Tennessee Titans. The game, played at the Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, was a rollercoaster ride for both teams and kept fans on the edge of their seats.

A Battle of Struggling Offenses

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the game amidst a wave of discontent among their fan base, particularly directed towards their offensive coordinator. The team had been grappling with inconsistent play from their former first-round quarterback, Kenny Pickett. Despite the turmoil, the Steelers had managed to maintain a 5-3 record, and this game demonstrated why they still commanded respect in the AFC North.

Kenny Pickett’s Rollercoaster Ride

Kenny Pickett’s performance in the game was a true reflection of the Steelers’ season. Playing with a rib injury, Pickett delivered a mixed bag of plays. There were moments of brilliance, such as his 32-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson that put the Steelers on the brink of the red zone. However, there were also regrettable throws, with a few passes thrown out of bounds in apparent frustration. The Steelers’ coach even had to bat down one of Pickett’s errant throws in a moment of exasperation.

Running Game Shines

While the passing game had its ups and downs, the Steelers’ running game was a shining light. Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris formed a formidable duo, combining for 157 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, averaging an impressive 6.3 yards per run. Harris’s explosive 22-yard run placed the Steelers just a yard away from the Titans’ end zone, setting the stage for a crucial touchdown.

Breaking the Drought

Diontae Johnson’s touchdown was particularly significant as it ended a long scoring drought for him. His last touchdown reception dated back to Week 16 of the 2021 season when Ben Roethlisberger was under center. The Steelers and their fans rejoiced at this much-needed offensive success.

Late Drama and Concerns

The game wasn’t without its late drama. A penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the point-after attempt and an impressive return by Tyjae Spears gave the Titans a glimmer of hope. However, their drive ultimately ended in disappointment with a fourth-down incompletion to Treylon Burks, who suffered an injury during the play. Burks was eventually carted off the field and taken to the hospital, adding a somber note to the game’s conclusion.

Steelers Secure the Win

The Steelers couldn’t capitalize on the next drive, giving the Titans one more chance with 1:44 left on the clock. Despite a promising drive, the Titans’ hopes were dashed with an interception in the end zone by Kwon Alexander, marking the game’s only turnover. It was a gritty defensive play that sealed the victory for Pittsburgh.

Ugly Wins and a Winning Record

Throughout the season, the Steelers had been no strangers to gritty, hard-fought victories. In fact, they had a unique distinction in the Super Bowl era. Despite being outgained in every game, they had managed to maintain a winning record through eight games. In this game, the Steelers were outgained 340-326, emphasizing their penchant for winning ugly.

Exorcising Offensive Demons

The Steelers had one particular demon that had haunted them throughout the season. They had not managed to score on their opening drive, a fact that had become symbolic of their offensive struggles. In fact, they had gained a meager 38 yards on such drives in seven games, accompanied by two turnovers. The game against the Titans saw the Steelers break this curse with a spectacular 10-play, 78-yard opening drive that culminated in a Najee Harris touchdown run.

Promise Shown by Will Levis

On the opposing side, Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis displayed commendable resilience. Facing a relentless Steelers defense that sacked him four times and kept him under constant pressure, Levis demonstrated his potential. Although he didn’t reach the dazzling heights of his previous week’s debut, his performance hinted at a promising future.

The Titans’ Quarterback Dilemma

With Ryan Tannehill sidelined due to injury, the Titans faced a dilemma regarding their starting quarterback. While their playoff hopes for the season were already dim at 3-5, Will Levis’s performance raised questions about whether the rookie should continue as the starter. His presence seemed to inject new life into the Titans’ offense, making the decision a challenging one for the coaching staff.

In conclusion, the Steelers managed to overcome their offensive woes and secure a crucial victory over the Titans. The game was a testament to their resilience and ability to win despite the odds. On the other side, the Titans face a quarterback dilemma with promising performances by their rookie signal-caller. As the NFL season unfolds, the Steelers and Titans will undoubtedly provide more exciting moments and captivating storylines.

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