The Steelers may want to name their 2011 highlight film “Jekyll and Hyde.” That’s the way it’s been for the team this year, with two blowout wins at home, two bad losses on the road, and a close win in Indy two weeks ago.
Sunday on a day with their backs against the wall and a number of players missing with injury, the Steelers dominated the Tennessee Titans, pounding them 38-17 to move to 3-2 on the season.
Ben Roethlisberger led the way for the black and gold, going 24-for-34 for 228 yards with five touchdowns. Hines Ward had his first two TD’s of the year, Heath Miller had one, David Johnson added one, and Mike Wallace got a long one with 2:39 left to make it 38-17.
It all came after the Titans marched down the field and went up 3-0 on their opening drive.
The defense cracked down from there, pounding Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck and holding him to 29-for-49 passing for 262 yards. Chris Johnson, coming off a 100-yard effort against the Browns, was held to 51 yards, with a 21-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage.
From there, it was gang tackling and staying in their gaps, as the Steelers slammed Johnson, and played their best defensive game of the year based on their opponent.
The offense put up a huge play by running back Jonathan Dwyer, as he sprung a 78-yard run that set the Steelers up for their third TD of the day.
The special teams also had a monster play, as punter Daniel Sepulveda threw a perfect pass to safety Ryan Mundy for 33 yards that sparked their second TD of the day.
The offensive line also played its best game of 2011, as they opened holes for Issac Redman as well as Dwyer, as Rashard Mendenhall sat the bench with a hamstring injury.
Redmen rushed for 49 yards on 15 carries, and Dwyer had 107 yards on 11 carries, most of which came on the big 78-yard run, but nonetheless they all count.
Tennessee had a chance to make it somewhat interesting in the fourth quarter, as they blocked a Sepulveda punt with about six minutes to go, but a touchdown that would have made it 31-17 was called back on a block in the back.
The Titans finally got a Hasselbeck touchdown pass, but it took nearly three minutes, which killed them for any comeback chances.
The Steelers recovered the onside kick after the Titans made it 31-17, and were able to get the final score of the day when Roethlisberger went deep to Wallace for a 40-yard score to make it 38-17.
Next week the Steelers host the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 1-4 on the year after a loss to the Bengals.