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Steelers Run Game Leads Comeback Over Titans.

Pittsburgh Steelers Run Game Leads Comeback Over Titans - Sports  Illustrated Pittsburgh Steelers News, Analysis and More

The Pittsburgh Steelers used another late, go-ahead scoring drive to pull out a win late in the fourth quarter.

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have a script and they’re sticking to it. Another shaky first half gave way to a strong finish and a late win over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.

Behind 165 total rushing yards, another strong fourth quarter from Kenny Pickett and Diontae Johnson’s first touchdown reception since the 2021 season, the Steelers knocked off the Titans, 20-16 and improved to 5-3 and 3-1 in their first four games after the bye week.

With their offensive coordinator, Matt Canada in his new post on the sidelines, the Steelers opted to take the ball first after winning the coin toss and it proved a wise decision. The Steelers moved methodically but efficiently down the field in 10 plays and 4:49 seconds, covering 78 yards and converting four first downs before Najee Harris scampered for a 10-yard touchdown run. Kenny Pickett, injured ribs and all, completed five of seven passes for 62 yards to open the game.

Trailing 7-0, Titans rookie Will Levis came out to lead his offense onto the field for his second start. Four Steelers penalties – roughing the passer on T.J. Watt, illegal contact on Patrick Peterson, and a facemask and illegal use of hands on Joey Porter Jr., making the first start of his career – helped the Titans get into Steeler territory. But once the flags stopped flying, the Steelers were able to bow up in the redzone, thanks to a drive-killing, helmet-less sack from Watt, which forced a 36-yard field goal from Nick Folk, which he made.

Pickett and company came back onto the field, looking to extend their 7-3 lead, but the offense turned in a three-and-out after Pickett missed George Pickens running wide open across the field. It could have been a first down if Pickett had been able to hit his receiver, but Pressley Harvin came on for his first punt of the day instead.

The first quarter ended just as it began, with the officials tossing flags on the field. Three Tennessee penalties for 18 yards on the first four plays of their next possession set Alex Highsmith up for another drive-ending sack and a subsequent punt by Tennessee.

The Steelers couldn’t manage much better when they got the ball back. They gained just two yards on a Harris run then Pickens and Calvin Austin failed to haul in consecutive passes and Harvin came out to punt again.

Levis broke the three-and-out streak by hitting Deandre Hopkins along the sideline for a first down. Then he avoided a pair of Steelers pass-rushers to deliver a 23-yard pass to Nick Westbrook for another first down over newly-acquired Steelers rookie corner Darius Rush. Then Henry began to get his legs moving and rushed six times for 29 yards, including a two-yard touchdown rush that capped the drive and gave the Titans a 10-7 lead with 6:40 to play in the first half.

The Steelers broke out of a funk themselves thanks to strong running from Harris and Jaylen Warren. Harris picked up 11 yards on two rushes to get things started, Diontae Johnson added eight yards on a catch and run, and a roughing the passer penalty moved Pittsburgh over midfield. Then Warren got hot, running for 29 yards on consecutive runs to set the Steelers up on the Titans’ seven-yard line. But a third down penalty for 12 men in the huddle killed a promising drive and forced the Steelers to take a 29-yard field goal that tied the game at 10 with 1:19 left until halftime.

Racing against the clock, Levis led the Titans right down the field with long completions to Kyle Phillips. But after two more incompletions on shots at the endzone, the Titans settled for a 36-yard field goal with three seconds left that put them up 13-10 over the Steelers heading into halftime.

The Titans had a chance to double dip when they took the ball coming out of halftime, but the Steelers blanketed Hopkins’ on second and third down to force incompletions and a punt.

Pickett hits Johnson for late touchdown as the Steelers slip past Levis,  Titans 20-16 | WOWK 13 News

It was the Steelers running backs who again got the offense into a rhythm with their first possession of the second half. Harris gave them some breathing room with a 25-yard run, one of his best of the year. Backed into a third and eight at the Tennesse 45-yard line, an illegal contact penalty on Elijah Molden, covering Connor Heyward, gave the Steelers a fresh set of downs.

The Steelers drove all the way up to the 12-yard line and appeared to have secured a go-ahead touchdown pass from Pickett to Pickens, but Pickens’ left foot came down just out of bounds and they had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Boswell. The 8:17-long drive ended with a 13-13 tie.

Pittsburgh could have taken the ball back quickly after forcing Levis to throw incomplete on third and five, but another illegal contact penalty on Petersen bailed Tennessee out. After a 23-yard catch and run from Henry, the Titans kicked a 48-yard field goal and took a 16-13 lead with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.

At the start of their next drive, the Steelers and Pickett entered a familiar and comfortable spot – a one-score game in the fourth quarter. Alas, the “Fourth Quarter Kenny” magic did not arrive and the Steelers punted again, but punted well. Harvin pinned Tennessee on their own eight-yard line with a 48-yard boot.

On the first play of the drive, with the Acrisure Stadium crowd at full throat, Levis got all day to throw from his offensive line and found Treylon Burks for a 21-yard gain down the sideline. But the Steelers recovered well and forced a stop on third and eight.

Titans punter Ryan Stonehouse flipped the field with a 51-yard boot that landed in Austin’s arms for a fair catch at the Steelers eight-yard line. The Steelers let their running backs, Harris and Warren bulldoze the offense up to the 41-yard line and then Pickett put his stamp on the drive, sneaking a 32-yard pass into Johnson along the right sideline. Warren then bounced outside for a 22-yard run to put Pittsburgh on the doorstep of a go-ahead score.

A run for no gain and false start penalty pushed the Steelers back to the six-yard line, but after a Titans penalty put them back on the three-yard line. On the very next play, Pickett hit Johnson in the flat for his first receiving touchdown in more than two years, a big one that put the Steelers ontop 20-16.

Steelers tackle Broderick Jones made a costly error at the end of the play, however, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that set the ensuing kickoff back 15 yards and allowed Tajae Spears to set his team up at their own 48 yard line with a 29-yard kickoff return. Two runs gained just six yards and Levis, looking for a home run on fourth and four, led Burks out of bounds for an incompletion, with Levi Wallace blanketing him to make the critical stop.

Burks hit his head when he fell to the ground at the end of the play and had to be carted off the field during a lengthy delay before both teams completed the final 2:13 of game time. Burks was able to give a thumbs up as he left the field.

The Steelers ate up just 23 seconds with three runs that gained two total yards before punting and put it on their defense to make one more stop with 1:44 left in regulation and Tennesse having burned all but one timeout.

After Highsmith sacked Levis for an eight-yard loss on first and 10, the Titans used their last timeout with 1:23 to play. The Steelers appeared to have a stop when Levis’ fourth and seven pass fell well incomplete, but Porter was flagged for holding Hopkins and the Titans got another chance with 53 seconds left.

Levis hit Chris Moore for 29 yards and spiked the ball with 27 seconds left to halt the clock. From the Steelers’ 36-yard line, Darius Rush almost ended the game with an interception but couldn’t hold on to the hanging pass intended for the endzone. Another short pass got the Titans into the redzone with 11 seconds left but Kwon Alexander cemented the victory with an interception at the goal line and the Steelers held on for a tight, 20-16 victory.

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