Steelers escape as only undefeated AFC team after Titans' Stephen Gostkowski misses FG

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the last remaining undefeated team in the AFC following a 27-24 win over the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The Titans (5-1) built a second-half comeback and nearly forced overtime after intercepting Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone slightly ahead of the two-minute warning. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the 45-yard field goal in the final 20 seconds and the Steelers escaped with the victory and 6-0 start.

The game was originally scheduled to be played in Week 4, but was rescheduled due to positive COVID-19 tests in the Titans’ organization.

It’s the first time in franchise history the Steelers have scored at least 25 points in all six games to start a season. With a 24-7 lead at the half, they are one of only two teams (Kansas City Chiefs) to score at least 24 points in a half twice this season.

Titans miss chance to tie game in regulation

Roethlisberger found JuJu Smith-Schuster on a big 28-yard gain as time ticked down in the fourth quarter and the Steelers held a 27-24 lead. They built an 82-yard drive that killed 7:38 off the clock and looked poised to punch in the deciding score.

But a pass interference penalty on a third-and-2 from the Titans’ 9-yard line pushed the Steelers back 10 yards. On the ensuing play instead of finding Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger threw his third interception of the day just ahead of the two-minute warning. The QB was 32-of-49 for 268 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Most of his passes went to Smith-Schuster, who led all receivers with nine receptions and 85 yards.

The Titans moved their way down the field, highlighted by a 21-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown that put them into the target range at the Steelers’ 25. Intentional grounding pushed them back to the 35 and they could muster only a 7-yard gain over the next two plays.

Gostkowski’s try went wide right with 14 seconds on the clock. The 15-year veteran has converted 10 of 16 attempts this season, including one of five from between 40-49 yards. He made a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter that brought the Titans within 10 and is overall 5-of-5 on kicks over 50 yards.

Benny Snell and Diontae Johnson bump chests in the air on the Steelers sideline.
Benny Snell is congratulated by teammate Diontae Johnson after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Steelers control first half vs. Titans

The Steelers dominated the first half. They controlled possession in the first quarter, holding the ball for 13:39 to score two touchdowns. The Titans gained 1 yard on a three-and-out that ate up 1:21 of the clock.

Roethlisberger threaded in a touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson on the first for the early lead. Johnson had nine catches for 80 yards and two scores.

Benny Snell got the second touchdown from the 1-yard line to go into the second quarter up, 14-0. Smith-Schuster reeled in a 21-yard pass to get the Steelers in the red zone.

The Titans got on the board with a 12-play drive finished off by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Corey Davis. But they couldn’t keep up with the onslaught. The Steelers got a 38-yard field goal from Chris Boswell and another touchdown catch from Johnson to go into the locker room with a 24-7 lead.

Pittsburgh had 228 yards of offense at the half while its defense kept Tennessee to 83. Tannehill had 50 yards in the air and Derrick Henry rushed for 27. The time of possession was also in the Steelers’ favor, 19:56-10:04.

Derrick Henry jumps Titans into contention

The Titans rallied in the second half to make it a three-point game minutes into the fourth quarter.

Their first big play in their comeback attempt was a 73-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to A.J. Brown early in the third that made it a two-touchdown game. Tannehill, a contender for MVP, was 18-of-30 for 220 yards and two scores. The majority went to Brown, who had six receptions on eight targets for 153 yards.

It was the longest receiving touchdown versus the Steelers since the 2017 meeting between the two teams when Rishard Matthews went 75 yards.

The Titans cut deeper into the lead after trading punts. Jayon Brown, who dealt with a bone bruise earlier this month, intercepted Roethlisberger at the Steelers 30. The Pittsburgh defense stood strong with a sack for a loss of 3 and a tipped pass, but Gostkowski drilled a 51-yard field goal to make it 27-17.

Henry came through early in the fourth quarter, jumping into the end zone for a 1-yard score that made it 27-24. The Titans had new life on the 70-yard drive when the Steelers were called for holding on the fourth-and-goal. Henry had 41 rushing yards during the possession and finished with 75.

The Titans missed out on their chance to complete the comeback with the penalty and missed field goal.

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