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Winners and Losers from the Steelers' 27-24 win over the Titans

Updated: Oct 30, 2020


Diontae Johnson – Johnson capped off the opening drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception from Ben Roethlisberger. Along with the touchdown, Johnson had three receptions for 39 yards on the drive. One of those receptions came on third-and-11 when Johnson caught a short pass from Roethlisberger and had a nice catch-and-run for 14 yards. It was the Steelers' first touchdown on an opening drive since Week 15 of the 2018 season against the Patriots. Late in the second quarter, Roethlisberger connected to Johnson again for a score on a 9-yard catch-and-run to extend the Steelers’ lead over the Titans to 24-7. Johnson finished the game with nine receptions on 15 targets for 81 yards and two touchdowns.

JuJu Smith-Schuster – Smith-Schuster had nine receptions on 14 targets for a team-high 85 yards. Smith-Schuster just had two receptions for 6 yards last week against the Browns, but he came up big today against the Titans. Smith-Schuster was Ben’s go-to receiver when a play needed to be made on the Steelers’ 16-play, 72-yard drive in the fourth quarter that took 7:38 off the clock. Smith-Schuster had two conversions on third down, one going for five yards on third-and-1 and the other going for seven yards on third-and-7. Smith-Schuster also had a 28-yard reception on first-and-10 to get into Titans’ territory. The drive ultimately ended with Roethlisberger getting picked off in the end zone, but the Steelers took off a lot of time on the drive and Smith-Schuster played a big role in that. Getting conversions for the team was the modus operandi for Smith-Schuster today.

Third-down efficiency/Time of possession - The Steelers dominated the first quarter, possessing the ball for 13:39 while the Titans had possession for just 1:21. The Steelers were 7 of 7 on third downs with 14:22 remaining in the second quarter. With several of those third-down conversions coming on third-and-long. The Steelers led 14-0 with 12:16 remaining in the second quarter and had 161 total yards compared to the Titans 1 single yard. Henry was responsible for that lone yard on one carry. In the first half, the offense was 8 of 9 on third downs. The Steelers had 228 total yards in the first half, while the Titans had just 83 total yards. In the time of possession department, the Steelers led 19:56-10:04 in the first half. The Steelers finished the game 13 of 18 on third downs and led in the time of possession category against the Titans 36:37-23:23.

Ray-Ray McCloud – McCloud had a 57-yard punt return late in the second quarter that set up a 9-yard touchdown reception by Johnson from Roethlisberger to give the Steelers a 24-7 lead.

James Conner – Conner rushed for 82 yards on 20 carries in the game, an average of 4.1 yards per carry. He also had three receptions for 29 yards. Conner ran hard and was able to get yards after contact against the Titans. His stats might not stand out on the stat sheet but he was once again efficient for the Steelers in both the running and passing game.

T.J. Watt – Watt had two tackles for a loss on Derrick Henry in the first half. Watt had a sack for a loss of seven yards on the first play of the Titans’ offensive possession to start the second half. In total, Watt had three tackles for a loss in the game. Watt also had five total tackles, a quarterback hit and a pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. Watt has recorded 40 sacks over the last four seasons, which ranks fourth overall and most among all NFL linebackers over that span. The Steelers have registered at least one sack in 63 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. The 63-game streak is the longest in regular-season franchise history.

Run defense – The defense kept Henry in check in the first half, allowing just 27 yards rushing on eight carries, an average of 3.4 yards per carry. The defense had three plays of zero or negative yards on Henry in the first half with two of those tackle for losses coming from Watt. Overall, Henry rushed for 75 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. His longest run in the game went for just 17 yards, so while the Steelers didn’t completely shut down Henry they were able to contain him. Which is all you can ask for when going up against a running back like Henry.

Offensive line – The offensive line allowed no sacks in the game and Roethlisberger got hit just three times. The offensive line continues to play at a high level this season, both in pass blocking and run blocking.

Vince Williams – Williams led the Steelers in tackles with 10 and nine were solo tackles. Williams also had a sack, two tackles for a loss and a quarterback hit. Along with T.J. Watt, Williams is tied for the most tackles for a loss in the league with 12 tackles, which is the most over the first six games of a season in franchise history and tied for the third-most in the league since 1999.

Cam Sutton – Sutton filled in well for Mike Hilton who was out with a shoulder injury. Sutton had four total tackles and two pass deflections in the game.


Minkah Fitzpatrick – With the Steelers leading 27-7 in the third quarter, Ryan Tannehill off play-action completed to A.J. Brown for a 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown to give the Titans a spark and shorten the Steelers’ lead to 27-14. Fitzpatrick hesitated back at free safety and took a bad angle that led Brown to go off to the races for the score. On fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter with the Steelers holding onto a 27-17 lead, Fitzpatrick was called for defensive holding after an incompletion which gave the Titans a new set of downs. Henry would dive in for a 1-yard score on the next play to make it a three-point game, 27-24.

Ben Roethlisberger - Late in the third quarter with the Steelers leading 27-14, Roethlisberger’s pass got deflected at the line of scrimmage by defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons and was picked off by linebacker Jayon Brown. The Titans took over at Pittsburgh’s 30-yard line, but the defense forced a three-and-out and held the Titans to just a field goal. Roethlisberger would get picked off again late in the fourth quarter in the end zone when he tried to force a pass to Smith-Schuster in tight coverage. Linebacker Jayon Brown tipped the ball away from Smith-Schuster and safety Amani Hooker came up with the interception in the back of the end zone for a touchback. The Steelers were in field goal range and facing a third-and-12 on the play and had a 27-24 lead. The turnover didn’t end up costing the Steelers, as Stephen Gostkowski missed a 45-yard field goal wide right that would have tied the game with 14 seconds remaining and the Steelers squeaked out a three-point win in Nashville. Roethlisberger also threw an interception at the end of the first half when he threw up a deep ball into the end zone. The Steelers had the ball at Tennessee’s 37-yard line with 14 seconds left after the Titans’ punter Brett Kern couldn’t handle the snap and threw an incompletion resulting in a turnover on downs. Instead of throwing up a prayer, Roethlisberger should have tried to throw a shorter pass to the sidelines to get the Steelers into field goal range. This might sound easier said than done with just 14 seconds remaining and having no timeouts left, but this mishap at the end of the first half could have costed the Steelers in this game with it ending in just a three-point win. Roethlisberger finished the game 32 of 49 (65.3%) for 268 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 67.4. The Steelers were minus-3 in turnover differential today, all of which were interceptions thrown by Roethlisberger. In the first half, Roethlisberger was 17 of 24 (70.8%) for 160 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and had a quarterback rating of 116.7. In the second half, Roethlisberger completed 15 of his 25 passes (60%) for 108 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 36.7. In total, Roethlisberger completed 65.3% of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 67.4.

Pass defense – A.J. Brown had a huge game against the Steelers’ pass defense with six receptions for 153 yards (25.5 yards per catch) and a touchdown. Of Brown’s 153 yards receiving, 73 of those yards came on the run-and-catch for a touchdown in the third quarter. Tannehill passed for 220 yards in the game, so 69.5 percent of his passing yards went to Brown. It’s the second time this year that the secondary has let a wide receiver go off for a big game, as in Week 5 they let Travis Fulgham have 10 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown.

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