Sunday, September 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Titans 16, Steelers 9
By Paul Kuharsky
PITTSBURGH -- Rapid reaction from the Tennessee Titans' 16-9 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
What it means: The Titans were able to survive a gaffe that gave the Steelers two points on the opening kickoff and do all the things they’ve talked about. They established the run, didn’t make mistakes, put Jake Locker in good situations in which he did just fine, won time of possession with 34:01 and played stout defense, particularly against the run. They got the first opening-day victory of Mike Munchak’s three-season tenure.
Stock Watch: Jackie Battle stepped in for Shonn Greene (knee) as the changeup for Chris Johnson and fared well, scoring the game’s lone touchdown and fighting for some tough yards. It’s not a great defense for Johnson to run against, but he still took 25 handoffs and went 70 yards. Overall the Titans turned 42 runs into 112 yards.
Superior run defense: The Steelers used Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling but never mounted a threatening or sustained rushing attack. The Titans swarmed to the ball carrier and were effective and efficient as a run defense. They turned 15 carries into just 32 yards.
Mistake free: Locker threw only 20 passes, but he did not make any major mistakes in a game in which Pittsburgh was desperate for one. Things could have changed in a hurry if the Steelers' defense could have found one field-position flipping play. It didn’t.
What’s next: The Titans travel to Houston to square off with the defending AFC South champion Texans. Houston opens its season Monday night in San Diego. The Titans were swept by the Texans in 2012.