Steelers
Titans
14 - 31 Final
  for this game

Titans clinch home-field advantage

Dec 22, 2008 - 2:02 AM By Chip Cirillo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher was looking for momentum, not respect.

He got both after the Titans rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-14, in a showdown between the AFC's top two teams Sunday.

Rookie Chris Johnson and LenDale White rushed for touchdowns in the second half as the Titans (13-2) clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

"This was the message to the team this week: This was a momentum game for us," Fisher said. "This was not a statement game by no means, but it was a momentum game. We needed to build momentum for the playoffs."

Tennessee snapped Pittsburgh's five-game winning streak. The Steelers (11-4), who entered the contest with the NFL's top-ranked defense, allowed a season-high point total. No one had scored more than 13 against the Steelers during their winning streak.

However, the Titans scored 21 points on four turnovers by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw two interceptions and fumbled twice.

"I am not going to say we beat ourselves because they beat us," Roethlisberger said. "I didn't play well. I am never one to shy away from taking the blame, but that is a great football team."

Roethlisberger threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward to give the Steelers a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, but the Titans rallied with three unanswered touchdowns.

Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins bounced back from a poor showing in last week's loss at Houston by completing 20-of-29 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown.

"For us, really, the biggest thing was to be able to get past last week," Collins said. "I mean that was as bad as we've played all year and we knew we were going to have to rise up to a big challenge this week against a really, really good defense. I think we showed a lot of character playing the way we did after probably our worst game last week."

Jason Jones, a rookie defensive tackle filling in for the injured Albert Haynesworth, forced three fumbles - two that Tennessee recovered - and recorded 3 1/2 sacks. He knocked the ball loose from Roethlisberger at the Titans 1-yard line in the first quarter, and teammate Williams Hayes scooped it up to keep the Steelers off the scoreboard.

"I had a good day today, but as a defense it was a collective effort," Jones said. "Without those guys, I probably wouldn't have got all that. Turnovers probably won the game for us, giving the offense field position and what not."

Titans free safety Michael Griffin intercepted two passes in the second half and returned the second one 83 yards for a touchdown with 16 seconds left.

"I felt like I was running a 400-meter race -- at least 40 or 50 seconds just to get there," Griffin said. "I looked to the left and saw all open air.

"I managed to beat Ben and then I saw (Mewelde Moore) still running for me and I was just, 'Please just stop so I can get in here.' I managed to make one move and get into the end zone."

Roethlisberger passed for 331 yards, but the Steelers managed only 71 on the ground as the Titans clogged up the running lanes.

"The story of the game for us really was just missed opportunities," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "When you don't take care of the football versus good people, in a hostile environment, it bites you. They made significant plays in third-down situations and fourth-down situations."

Johnson scored on 4th-and-1 when he scampered 21 yards on a pitch left, giving the Titans a 17-14 lead in the third quarter.

Tennessee converted another fourth down on its next scoring drive and a fourth-down unsportsmanlike penalty on James Harrison kept alive the drive.

Two plays later, White scored on a 1-yard run to give the Titans a 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

"It is real disappointing," Harrison said. "That is not the way we play defense. They did a good job. They came out and imposed their will. I guess their will is stronger than ours."






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    Steelers 14, Titans 31  FinalDec 21 9:26 PM
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    Steelers 14, Titans 31  FinalDec 21 8:32 PM
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    Steelers 14, Titans 31  FinalDec 21 5:46 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 7 7 0 14
    TENNESSEE 0 10 7 14 31 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NONE
    2ND QUARTER: TEN - FG, ROB BIRONAS 42 YD, 0:47. Drive: 5
    plays, 17 yards in 2:18. Key plays:
    Carr 12-yard punt return to
    Pittsburgh 41; Collins 13-yad pass
    to McCareins to Pittsburgh 28;

    Dec 21 4:06 PM


  • NFL
    TD TEN
    MICHAEL GRIFFIN 83 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN
    (ROB BIRONAS KICK)
    PITTSBURGH 14
    TENNESSEE 31 0:16 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Steelers 14, Titans 31  4th - 0:16Dec 21 4:04 PM


  • NFL
    TD TEN
    LENDALE WHITE 2 YD RUN
    (ROB BIRONAS KICK)
    PITTSBURGH 14
    TENNESSEE 24 14:57 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Steelers 14, Titans 24  4th - 14:57Dec 21 3:26 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 7 7 14
    TENNESSEE 0 10 7 17 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NONE
    2ND QUARTER: TEN - FG, ROB BIRONAS 42 YD, 0:47. Drive: 5
    plays, 17 yards in 2:18. Key plays:
    Carr 12-yard punt return to
    Pittsburgh 41; Collins 13-yad pass
    to McCareins to Pittsbu

    Dec 21 3:21 PM


  • NFL
    TD TEN
    CHRIS JOHNSON 21 YD RUN
    (ROB BIRONAS KICK)
    PITTSBURGH 14
    TENNESSEE 17 5:05 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Steelers 14, Titans 17  3rd - 5:05Dec 21 3:06 PM


  • NFL
    TD PIT
    HINES WARD 21 YD PASS FROM BEN ROETHLISBERGER
    (JEFF REED KICK)
    PITTSBURGH 14
    TENNESSEE 10 9:41 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Steelers 14, Titans 10  3rd - 9:41Dec 21 2:53 PM


  • NFL
    MISSED FG PIT
    JEFF REED 33 YD ATTEMPT WIDE LEFT
    PITTSBURGH 7
    TENNESSEE 10 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Dec 21 2:23 PM


  • NFL
    TD PIT
    SANTONIO HOLMES 31 YD PASS FROM BEN ROETHLISBERGER
    (JEFF REED KICK)
    PITTSBURGH 7
    TENNESSEE 10 5:40 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Steelers 7, Titans 10  2nd - 5:40Dec 21 2:03 PM


  • NFL
    TD TEN
    JUSTIN GAGE 34 YD PASS FROM KERRY COLLINS
    (ROB BIRONAS KICK)
    PITTSBURGH 0
    TENNESSEE 10 11:59 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Steelers 0, Titans 10  2nd - 11:59Dec 21 1:52 PM


  • NFL
    FG TEN
    ROB BIRONAS 42 YD
    PITTSBURGH 0
    TENNESSEE 3 14:13 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Steelers 0, Titans 3  2nd - 14:13Dec 21 1:43 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 0
    TENNESSEE 0 0 END, 1ST QTR

    Dec 21 1:39 PM
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    thefanblog Added 5 roots

    Steelers 0, Titans 0  1st - 10:29Dec 21 1:17 PM
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