The reports of the Steelers demise have been grossly exaggerated, at least for a week, as Pittsburgh used a balanced attack to demolish the surprising Tennessee Titans 38-17. The Titans, who came into today's game at 3-1 and atop the AFC South, was looking for that big road win to validate their strong start and to tell the rest of the NFL that they are for real. Unfortunately for them, the Steelers came into today's game with something to prove as well.
After getting thrashed on the ground last week by Arian Foster and the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh's prideful defense came into the Titans game looking to prove that they weren't getting soft. They accomplished that and more as they mostly made one of the best backs in the game, Chris Johnson, look largely ineffective. Johnson finished the game with 65 total yards and 1 late touchdown.
"I think it sent a message that we need to play more physical," said linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who had an interception and 1½ sacks. "We went out there and we brought it."
Another welcome sight to the Steelers was the return of QB Ben Roethlisberger to vintage form. The two time SuperBowl winning QB had looked anything like his usually productive self heading into this game but exploded for 5 touchdown passes for the day, despite playing with a bum foot. Big Ben was helped immensely by the return of Max Starks to left tackle and a running game that had been dormant through the first quarter of the season. The return of Starks, re-signed this week, seemed to stabilize the struggling line and allowed Ben the time needed to pick apart the Tennessee secondary.
"He's an A-player," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's got to play (that way) in order for us to do well."
Overall, the performance put on in week 5 by the Steelers was a good step in the right direction for a team that has looked lost in the early going.
The NFL season is as much a marathon as a sprint so Pittsburgh will have to maintain this momentum heading into the coming weeks but sometimes it's just enough knowing that you have it left in the tank to do it if you need to.
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