(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
The Steelers scored an open drive touchdown in their 27-24 win over the Titans on Sunday, it marked the first time that the Steelers scored a touchdown on their opening possession since Dec. 16, 2018, against the Patriots; a span of 23 games.
The Steelers opened the game against the Titans with a 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off with an 11-yard touchdown pass by Ben Roethlisberger to Dionate Johnson to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead. The scoring drive took 9:18 off the clock. Along with Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Johnson, he completed 10 of 12 passes for 84 yards on the drive. In addition, Johnson had three receptions for 39 yards, including a 14-yard catch-and-run on third-and-11 on the opening possession.
“Everyone can stop talking about scoring on opening drives and things like that,” Ben Roethlisberger said after the game. "But I came into this game and told Coach Tomlin, ‘We’re going to take the ball. We’re not going to defer.’ We knew that they would probably defer. So we knew we were going to have the ball first and I told the guys [Saturday] night, ‘This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to have the ball. Let’s go down the field.’"
Mike Tomlin had the same mindset as his quarterback and was tired of hearing about the Steelers not having an opening drive touchdown since Week 15 of the 2018 season.
"We wanted to answer all questions from you guys about how we start the game," Tomlin said in his post-game interview when asked about what went into his thinking in taking the ball after winning the coin toss. "And so, we took the ball, we went down the field and scored a touchdown, so now you guys can stop asking me about it."
With the Titans having a potent rushing attack with Derrick Henry leading the way, the Steelers wanted to control the time of possession and keep Henry off the field.
“They’re a team that kind of lives by time of possession, lives in that kind of playing from the lead," Roethlisberger said. "So we wanted to take the ball and do everything we could to go down and score to give our defense kind of a leg up in terms of what they may do on offense.”
The Steelers had 228 total yards in the first half, while the Titans had just 83 total yards. The Steelers led in time of possession 19:56-10:04 in the first half. The Steelers finished the game leading in time of possession 36:37-23:23.
The Steelers opening scoring drive against Tennessee was their first 15-plus opening drive for a touchdown since the 2010 AFC Championship Game against the Jets, a game in which Pittsburgh won, 24-19.