Steelers Report Card: Game Two vs. Tennessee Titans
Gerry Dulac grades the Steelers' effort in their victory against Tennessee Sunday
Monday, September 20, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post Gazette QUARTERBACKS
There will not be any style points for this one, not when Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch combined to complete 9 of 17 passes for 43 yards, none longer than 15 yards. Dixon's biggest contribution was a 21-yard scramble to the Titans' 21 to set up a field goal before he was injured, but his fumble the first time he was sacked led to a Titans field goal. Probably the good news is no interceptions. D

RUNNING BACKS
The Titans were determined to stop Rashard Mendenhall by loading eight and nine players in the box, but he still managed to pound out 69 yards on 23 carries. The biggest was a 20-yarder in a 6 1/2-minute drive that resulted in Jeff Reed's first field goal. Isaac Redman converted a big third-and-1 with a 6-yard run to keep alive a drive that would result in Reed's third field goal. C

WIDE RECEIVERS
You know it's not a productive game for the receivers when Mike Wallace led the team with two catches for 25 yards. He also had the longest catch of the game -- a 15-yarder -- and dropped two other chances. Hines Ward was bracketed all game and had just one catch for 9 yards. But don't blame them. Dixon and Batch were not going to take chances with the lead. C

OFFENSIVE LINE
It might not have looked pretty, given the final numbers, but it was a hardy performance by a unit that played with countless line combinations because of the heat and injuries. Jonathan Scott's holding penalty near the end of the half wiped out a TD pass to Wallace, but he, Tony Hills and Doug Legursky had to play two positions in the game when Trai Essex, Flozell Adams and Chris Kemoeatu went down. B

DEFENSIVE LINE
For the second game in a row, the three-man front dominated the inside and created space for the inside linebackers to make plays. What's more, Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel (sack, forced fumble) did a good job to collapse the pocket on Vince Young and force him into mistakes. NT Chris Hoke, playing for injured Casey Hampton, was more than solid in the middle. A

LINEBACKERS
The No. 1 priority was to stop RB Chris Johnson, and they did, holding him to 34 yards on 16 carries. OLB James Harrison (10 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery) and ILB Lawrence Timmons (15 tackles, 12 solo, 1 forced fumble) were spectacular. OLB LaMarr Woodley extended his sack streak to 10 games and also had one of two interceptions against Young. A+

DEFENSIVE BACKS
The Titans finished with 215 yards passing, but 120 came in the final 4 1/2 minutes when the game was decided. Until then, the Titans didn't have a completion longer than 17 yards. Troy Polamalu's first-quarter interception in the end zone, his second in as many games, was a big momentum changer. He also played closer to the line of scrimmage to stop Johnson and finished with three tackles for losses.A

SPECIAL TEAMS
Antonio Brown's 89-yard kick return for touchdown was the big early play the team was seeking. And rookie LB Stevenson Sylvester made two big plays, springing Brown on his scoring return, then punching out the ball on the ensuing kick return that Keyaron Fox recovered. But the return unit created a little drama at the end when S Will Allen failed to recover an onside kick that could have led to the tying TD. A-

COACHING
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's defensive plan ended Johnson's string of consecutive 100-yard games (12) and completely baffled Young. But this was also a game that showed the team's character and depth because of all the different players who had to be used because of the heat. It was more testament of coach Mike Tomlin's favorite sermon -- that the standard of expectation does not change. A+


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.

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