PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are just percentage points out of first place in the AFC North but they lead the division when it comes to the ESPN NFL Power Rankings.
The Browns fell out of first place in the AFC North following a 23-7 loss to the Houston Texans.
The Bengals (6-3-1) are in first place in the division, just ahead of the Steelers (7-4). The division rivals play Dec. 7 in Cincinnati and Dec. 28 in Pittsburgh.
Here are a few leftover notes from the Steelers' win over the Titans (they got a little lost in the aftermath of the LeGarrette Blount drama):
Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who is on the practice squad, traveled with the Steelers to Tennessee as a reward for his military service. Villanueva, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger who served with distinction in Afghanistan, was an honorary captain against the Titans. He is also the player quarterback Ben Roethlisberger brought up when he exhorted his teammates to run out the clock when the Steelers got the ball back with seven minutes left in the game. The Steelers did just that, running 10 plays before Roethlisberger twice took a knee to preserve a three-point victory. “Al is our guy,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “We're blessed to have him on our team. For someone to go over there and do some of the things he did over there and serve his country it's a blessing to be around him.”
One of the Steelers' worst sequences of the season came at the end of the first half when Roethlisbeger threw an interception in the end zone after miscommunication between the 11th-year veteran and wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Titans followed that takeaway with an 80-yard touchdown pass. It came with less than a minute to play after wide receiver Nate Washington blew past cornerback William Gay and scored easily after catching a pass from Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger. “They dialed up a double move and got us,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “They protected, they ran a good route and (Mettenberger) executed a throw but at the same time but at the same time we're talking about 80 yards from paydirt in situational football. That's unacceptable.” Neither Tomlin nor Gay would say if the latter should have had safety help. “We accept responsibility for that and I tip my cap to those guys for good execution,” Tomlin said.
The Steelers players will practice today and then take the rest of the week off. Per the collective bargaining agreement, teams have to give players four consecutive days off during the bye week. That is why the work week for the Steelers' players will end this afternoon. The Steelers go into the bye week on a positive note, and when they return to work on Monday they will start preparing for a Nov. 30 game against the visiting New Orleans Saints. “We have to get healthy and then keep gaining momentum,” right tackle Marcus Gilbert said. “This team's on the rise.”
Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and linebacker Kevin Greene are among the semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.