Nov 17, 2014 10:03 PM
Titans turn pick into TD, lead Steelers 17-13
The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jason McCourty intercepted Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone, and rookie Zach Mettenberger found Nate Washington on the next play for an 80-yard touchdown pass that lifted the Tennessee Titans to a 17-13 halftime lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.
Roethlisberger came into the game with only five interceptions. But the Titans sacked him three times in the second quarter, and McCourty stepped in front of a pass intended for Antonio Brown with 44 seconds left in the first half.
The Titans called timeout, and then Mettenberger threw to a wide-open Washington, who beat William Gay with a stutter-step. Washington, who won two Super Bowl rings in Pittsburgh, wagged his finger at the crowd once he got to the 25 on his way to the longest TD catch of his career.
It was quite a turnaround for Mettenberger and the Titans, who trailed 10-0 early in the first quarter.
William Gay intercepted Mettenberger on the Titans' first offensive play of the game and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown, and Shaun Suisham kicked field goals of 49 and 23 yards for the Steelers. Suisham's second field goal came when Pittsburgh stalled after having first-and-goal at the Titans 6.
The Steelers held the ball for more than 20 minutes of the first half, but the Titans had a 187-186 edge in total offense thanks to the big play.
Mettenberger, making his third start, bounced right back after Gay's interception. He completed his next two passes, setting up a 9-yard touchdown run for fellow rookie Bishop Sankey. Mettenberger was 7 of 10 for 164 yards at halftime.
The Steelers (6-4) came in tied with Cleveland and Baltimore for second in the AFC North, needing a victory to jump over Cincinnati for the top spot in the division going into their bye. But two of Pittsburgh's losses have come against Tampa Bay and the Jets, teams with a combined four wins, and coach Mike Tomlin is 1-8 all-time against teams with a winning percentage of .200 or worse.
Tomlin does have former Titans coach Mike Munchak coaching the Steelers' offensive line in Munchak's first game in his NFL career against the franchise he spent 32 seasons with as a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and coach. The Titans let Munchak go in January after going 22-26 in three seasons as head coach.
The Titans (2-7) had lost seven of their last eight under first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt. The man who won a Super Bowl ring as offensive coordinator with Pittsburgh was hired in January to turn around a franchise that last won a playoff game in January 2004. Whisenhunt already is on his third quarterback in Tennessee in Mettenberger.
Tennessee was without tight end Delanie Walker, who wasn't cleared after he suffered a concussion last week in Baltimore. That left the Titans with three tight ends not on the roster at the start of the season. The Steelers were without four defensive starters, including Troy Polamalu.
No matter the outcome, these teams played the coldest game at LP Field with the temperature at kickoff 25 degrees.
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