Final

Steelers 23

(2-3, 0-3 away)

Titans 26

(2-4, 2-1 home)

Coverage: NFL

8:20 PM ET, October 11, 2012

LP Field, Nashville, TN 

1 2 3 4 T
PIT 10 0 3 1023
TEN 6 10 0 1026

Top Performers

Passing: B. Roethlisberger (PIT) - 363 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: C. Johnson (TEN) - 19 CAR, 91 YDS

Receiving: I. Redman (PIT) - 4 REC, 105 YDS

Steelers-Titans Preview

STATS LLC

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back at .500, but injuries on defense continue to be a concern even with a potentially favorable prime time matchup ahead.

Trying to win two in a row for the first time this season, the banged-up Steelers look for a fourth consecutive victory over the struggling Tennessee Titans on Thursday night in Nashville.

Coming off its bye week, Pittsburgh (2-2) rallied for a 16-14 home victory over Philadelphia on Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger engineered a 64-yard drive over the final 6:33 and Shaun Suisham hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired to help the Steelers carry some momentum into this short week.

"We had the ball last," coach Mike Tomlin said. "Such is life."

Life can be better for the Steelers, especially on defense. Pittsburgh ranks fifth in the NFL with 280.0 yards allowed per contest, but it's given up 65 total points in road defeats to Denver and Oakland.

Though Tennessee (1-4) ranks 27th averaging 17.6 points, the Steelers will line up without one, and possibly two, of their top defenders.

That's enough to leave Tomlin wary of this challenge, along with the fact that Pittsburgh is 2-7 in Tennessee since the former Houston Oilers relocated there in 1997.

"We just need to respect the fact that we have yet to (win on the road) this year and we have an opportunity on Thursday night," Tomlin said.

Star safety Troy Polamalu will miss a third game after re-aggravating a strained calf Sunday. Tomlin, however, is cautiously optimistic that linebacker LaMarr Woodley could play despite a strained right hamstring.

"We're at the early portion of the season and we've got to be smart with how we deal with that," he said of Woodley.

Linebacker James Harrison will play following Sunday's effort in which he harassed Michael Vick in his return after missing the first three games while recovering from knee surgery.

While the Steelers hope a potentially patchwork defense can come through Thursday, their offense is healthy and could be in for a productive evening.

Rashard Mendenhall looks to build on his strong performance last week in which he rushed for 68 yards, and caught three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown in his first game since tearing his ACL on New Year's Day.

"Our savior is back," Roethlisberger said. "It was great to see him out there and he did a great job."

Mendenhall ran for 69 yards on 23 carries as Pittsburgh snapped a three-game skid at Tennessee with a 19-11 win Sept. 19, 2010.

Roethlisberger missed that contest while serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, but he threw for five touchdowns in a 38-17 win over the Titans on Oct. 9, 2011.

Roethlisberger is 3-1 versus Tennessee, with the lone defeat coming in Nashville on Dec. 21, 2008. He threw for 329 yards with two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice and sacked five times as the Steelers fell 31-14.

He passed for 220 yards with a TD on Sunday, recording his 25th career fourth-quarter comeback.

"I always have confidence in myself and the guys that we can do it," said Roethlisberger, who has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,111 yards with eight touchdowns and one pick in 2012.

He might not need another fourth-quarter rally against a Titans club that has allowed a league-high 181 points. Tennessee yielded its lowest point total of the season in a 30-7 loss at Minnesota on Sunday.

"It's frustrating," said coach Mike Munchak, whose team has totaled 21 points in two losses since a 44-41 overtime home win over Detroit on Sept. 23. "We know this is our big opportunity to hopefully change the opinion of a lot of people by how we play on Thursday night."

That could be a tall order for a team that has committed 10 turnovers and struggles to run the ball. Chris Johnson had 45 rushing yards over the first three games before gaining 141 in a 38-14 loss at Houston on Sept. 30. However, he managed 24 yards on 15 carries versus Minnesota.

Johnson won't get much help with backup Javon Ringer out at least four weeks with a knee injury.

"We don't look like a good team, so I wouldn't sit here and say that we're close," said Johnson, who has averaged 52.8 rushing yards in four games versus Pittsburgh.

Matt Hasselbeck, who started his second straight game in place of the injured Jake Locker last week, went 29 of 49 for 262 yards with a TD and an interception at Pittsburgh last season.

Tennessee has not lost three in a row since a six-game skid Oct. 31-Dec. 19, 2010.

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Passing Leaders

PittsburghCMP%YDSTDINT
B. Roethlisberger63.458212
R. Golden100.02500
TennesseeCMP%YDSTDINT
J. Locker59.750032

Rushing Leaders

PittsburghCARYDSAVGTD
L. Bell321685.31
M. Wheaton22211.00
TennesseeCARYDSAVGTD
S. Greene201115.60
D. McCluster13594.50

Receiving Leaders

PittsburghRECYDSAVGTD
A. Brown1220617.21
L. Bell1113612.40
TennesseeRECYDSAVGTD
D. Walker1317913.82
J. Hunter58917.80

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

TEAM OFFENSETEAMPER GAME AVERAGE
Total YardsPIT
 
 333
TEN
 
 313
Yards PassingPIT
 
 237
TEN
 
 208
Yards RushingPIT
 
 96
TEN
 
 105
TEAM DEFENSETEAMPER GAME AVERAGE
Yards AllowedPIT
 
 276
TEN
 
 375
Pass Yds AllowedPIT
 
 185
TEN
 
 248
Rush Yds AllowedPIT
 
 91
TEN
 
 127

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Pittsburgh leads 6-5
Oct 9, 2011PIT 38, TEN 17
Sep 19, 2010PIT 19, @TEN 11
Sep 10, 2009PIT 13, TEN 10
Dec 21, 2008PIT 14, @TEN 31
Sep 11, 2005PIT 34, TEN 7
Sep 28, 2003PIT 13, TEN 30
Jan 11, 2003PIT 31, @TEN 34
Nov 17, 2002PIT 23, @TEN 31
Nov 25, 2001PIT 34, @TEN 24
Oct 29, 2001PIT 34, TEN 7

Research Notes

Ben Roethlisberger has been stellar on 3rd down this season. He's completing over 70 percent of his passes for 5 touchdowns and zero interceptions. When passing on 3rd down, Roethlisberger has converted a first down nearly 53 percent of the time, best among all qualifying QB this season.
  [+]
Chris Johnson is averaging 1.8 yards per rush before first contact this season, sixth-worst among players with 40 rushes and more than two full yards worse than his rate in 2009. Johnson might find more space Thursday, as the Steelers have allowed 3.1 yards per rush before contact, fifth-worst in the NFL.
  [+]
Ben Roethlisberger has the best Total QBR this season (89.4) when facing four or fewer rushers. The Titans have used such pressure at the second-highest rate this season (81.7 percent), and have allowed the highest Total QBR (90.9) when sending four or fewer.
  [+]

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