Titans Shut Down Steelers


The Tennessee Titans' biggest challenge is getting their offense to play as well as their defense.

Steve McNair ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter, but it was Tennessee's defense that carried the Titans to a 16-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

The Titans sacked Kordell Stewart five times, intercepted him once and got a safety.

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Game Summary

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  • "Our defense is unbelievable," said fullback Lorenzo Neal. "They have virtually been carrying (us). ... Our defense is definitely winning games for us."

    The Titans (8-2) won their 12th straight against AFC Central Division foes and matched last season's win total thanks to a defense that kept the Steelers (5-5) out of the end zone after their opening possession. Pittsburgh has lost four straight games to the Titans.

    Tennessee, which hasn't won more than eight games in a season since 1993, held Pittsburgh to 11 yards in the third quarter and picked up a safety when Stewart was penalized for intentional grounding out of the end zone with 7:50 to go, making it 16-7.

    After the game, referee Mike Carey said the wrong player was announced as ineligible on the safety play. Stewart threw the ball toward tight end Mitch Lyons, who should have been eligible, meaning it should have ruled an incomplete pass instead of a safety.

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  • The Steelers, who lost to the Cleveland Browns last week, still had their chances. They drove 68 yards but wound up settling for a 24-yard field goal by Kris Brown with 7:06 left. The defense got the ball back with 3:15 left and no timeouts left, and the Steelers tried to mount their own game-winning drive.

    But Kenny Holmes intercepted Stewart at the Pittsburgh 20 with 1:53 remaining to seal the victory.

    The Titans have 34 sacks this season, topping the 30 they managed all last season. Rookie Jevon Kearse, who leads the team with 7@1/2 sacks, picked up one and also got Pittsburgh right tackle Anthony Brown penalized twice for false starts.

    Tight end Frank Wycheck said Tennessee's defensive line is much more talented than a year ago and have played well all season.

    "They can do a lot of things to hurt you," he said.

    Pittsburgh was penalized 11 times for 73 yards.

    "We tried to get some things going and we start finding ourselves ... in first-and-20," said Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

    It was the first time since the former Oilers moved to Tennessee that they actually had a hmefield advantage against the Steelers. Black and gold dotted Adelphia Coliseum, but Titans fans drowned them out much of the game before a record crowd of 66,619.

    "It was really loud," said Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. "When the fans really got into it, it made it really hard to hear."

    McNair, criticized for lackluster play the past two games, started very quickly. He drove the Titans 74 and 82 yards on their first two possessions, which he capped with TD runs of 3 and 2 yards for a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. McNair was 5-of-7 for 86 yards and had 104 of the Titans' 123 yards in the quarter.

    But the Titans offense went into hibernation the rest of the game. They finished with just 261 yards offense compared to 267 for Pittsburgh. McNair was 14-of-26 for 149 yards, and he also ran 10 times for 20 yards.

    Pittsburgh looked equally sharp on its first possession in trying to shake the Cleveland hangover. Bettis broke loose for a 35-yard run and Stewart, picked off twice last weekend, found Troy Edwards on a 15-yard touchdown pass.

    Tennessee preserved its streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher this season. Betis finished with 14 carries for 88 yards.

    Notes

  • The Titans need to win their next two AFC Central games to tie the record for longest divisional winning streak, set by the Dallas Cowboys in 1993-94.
  • The Titans are 4-0 this season when they score on the opening drive.
  • Entering the game, Pittsburgh had given up only two rushing touchdowns this season.
  • Titans linebacker Eddie Robinson got his fourth sack of the season, tying his career high.
  • The Titans have three safeties this season, tying a team record set in 1997.
  • Steelers cornerback Dewayne Washington intercepted a pass by McNair, giving him a team-high five this season.

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