Titans Escape Steelers Clutches

Steelers' Deshea Townsend (26) and Joey Porter (55) ride Titans' Frank Wycheck (89) to the ground. AP

The Tennessee Titans just want to win, no matter how it looks.

Al Del Greco kicked his third field goal, a 29-yarder, with four seconds left as the Titans rallied for a 9-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, stretching their winning streak to eight straight.

"As long as we're getting the wins, we can't complain about how we're winning or by how many points we're winning by," receiver Derrick Mason said.

The Titans improved to 8-1 for the first time in franchise history by overcoming their own mistakes. It looked like they would lose their first game since moving to Adelphia Coliseum when they hurt themselves with a season-high 14 penalties for 115 yards.

But Steve McNair took control just in time. He connected with Mason on three separate passes, the biggest a 17-yard completion on fourth-and-8 at the Pittsburgh 42 with 2:12 remaining.

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Game Summary

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  • Eddie George, who rushed 34 times for 98 yards, ran up the middle 11 yards. The Titans then ran the clock down and let Del Greco, who had missed a 24-yarder in the third quarter, clinch the victory with the field goal.

    "Thank God for second chances, that's all," Del Greco said.

    Tennessee now has a 2 1/2-game lead in the AFC Central and has beaten Pittsburgh seven straight times in the series.

    "When you've won eight straight games, you're going to have one of these types of games. Lucky for us, we would like to think that we have had it today," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

    Krdell Stewart put the Steelers (5-4) up 7-6 when he found tight end Mark Bruener across the middle for a 30-yard touchdown with 8:27 remaining.

    The Steelers had a chance to extend their own winning streak to six straight when they got the ball back with 4:38 to go. But they couldn't run the clock out, going three-and-out and giving the ball back less than a minute later.

    "We didn't come here for consolation prizes," Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said.

    McNair was 20-of-31 for 227 yards passing and added 50 yards rushing on five carries. Mason had a season-high eight catches for 92 yards.

    The Titans kept themselves from turning the game into a rout.

    Penalties kept McNair from having an even bigger day, wiping out 48 yards passing to tight end Frank Wycheck alone. After eight penalties in the first half, McNair tried to shake the Titans out of their doldrums with the first halftime talk of his career.

    "It's very frustrating when you get this thing going, and all of a sudden you make a big play and look back and see a flag," McNair said.

    Pittsburgh's defense stretched its streak to 20 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown, but the Titans failed to get into the end zone despite five straight trips inside the Steelers 20. Tennessee finished with 364 yards total offense compared to just 167 for the Steelers.

    The Titans held the ball for more than 39 minutes, sacked Stewart twice and forced two turnovers.

    Cowher said that Stewart, whose four starts this season have been on the road, will start next week against Philadelphia. But he said he isn't sure how to get his offense going.

    "I wish I had the answer. The one thing you've got to take into account is we've played some pretty good defenses," Cowher said.

    The Titans' best chance at a TD came when McNair tossed a 13-yarder to Chris Sanders early in the fourth quarter. Sanders had to jump over Chad Scott to pull the ball in, but only got his right foot down in bounds.

    Tennessee settled for field goals of 21 and 31 yards from Del Greco.

    Notes

  • It was the 300th victory in the franchise history of the Titans/Oilers.
  • Del Greco had connected on seven straight field goals between 20 and 30 yards before missing his 24-yarder.
  • The Titans now have swept the season series with the Steelers three straight seasons and for only the sixth time overall.
  • Tennessee now is 21-2 against AFC Central opponents since 1998.
  • Pittsburgh center Drmontti Dawson left in the second quarter after hurting his right hamstring, and Cowher said he wasn't sure how bad the injury was.
  • Bruener's TD was his first since Nov. 22, 1998, against Jacksonville.
  • Sanders hurt his ribs in the fourth quarter and receiver Carl Pickens reinjured his hamstring.


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