The 2011 season is only four weeks old, and already the Steelers are in a state of despair. This week they welcome the 3-1 Titans to town, a team that has a solid D and a refreshed QB in Matt Hasselbeck, who has been great through four weeks. It’s a huge game already for the Steelers, and here’s our keys and prediction.
1. Beat up and Confuse Matt Hasselbeck – The Titans offensive line has done a good job not allowing Hasselbeck to be bothered, and the Steelers didn’t get to Matt Schaub at all last week. That has to change if the black and gold are going to win this game. In the past two weeks, Hasselbeck has thrown five TD passes and just one pick and has a 119 passer rating. He and the Titans offense are playing with a high level of confidence, and the Steelers defense, minus James Harrison, have to find a way to knock him down a few times.
2. Get some big plays – Most of the Steelers big plays have come from Mike Wallace, but Antonio Brown has shown the ability to break some plays as well, and the Steelers need that this week. Last week the Titans got a 97-yard TD return from a pick by safety Jordan Babineaux. It would be nice to see the Steelers D, which has just one turnover on the season, to get a pick six in this game to turn the tide. Ben Roethlisberger has shown even when hurt that he isn’t afraid to take some shots downfield, and this week he needs to try that more with Wallace than last week in Houston.
3. Tackle – I said in the gamer last week that part of the issue with this team on defense right now is they haven’t been tackling well at all. That will need to change if they are going to hold down Chris Johnson and the Titans run game. Johnson was stuffed last season in the Steelers week two win over Tennessee on the road, but this year the run D has been terrible. It starts with wrapping up the ball carriers, and the defense hopefully worked on that during the week.
Prediction – I don’t like the vibe of what’s going on right now with the Steelers, and this week I don’t see it getting much better. This is Mike Tomlin’s time to get the Steelers turned around, but the players need to play better if they are going to beat a sound Titans team that is 3-1. The O-line is beat up, Harrison won’t play, and Big Ben is battered four weeks into the season. It all equals another setback, putting this team squarely in a position to be on high alert of the 2011 season could quickly be slipping away. Titans 23 Steelers 13