PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – After two weeks on the road, including a close game in Indianapolis and a tough loss in Houston, the Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the friendly confines of Heinz Field to take on the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans came in riding high on a three-game winning streak, but the Steelers were able to shake off their Week 4, 17-10 loss to the Texans and roll right past Tennessee 38-17.
Ben Roethlisberger tied a team record with five touchdown passes – including two to Hines Ward.
Other than a slight limp when he ran, Roethlisberger appeared to have no issues with his sprained left foot, also hitting Mike Wallace, Heath Miller and David Johnson for scores as the Steelers (3-2) ended Tennessee’s winning streak.
The five touchdown passes tied a single-game team record Roethlisberger already shares with Mark Malone and Terry Bradshaw.
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s Chris Johnson ran for a score but finished with just 51 rushing yards on 14 carries as the Titans (3-2) hot start came to a screeching halt against the Steelers’ rejuvenated defense.
The Titans received the opening kick and began their first possession at their own 20 yard line.
Pittsburgh appeared to have stopped the Titans twice, but penalties kept the drive alive.
After Nate Washington dropped a sure touchdown pass, the Steelers’ forced the Titans to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Rob Bironas to take a 3-0 lead.
Antonio Brown set the Steelers up with great field position for their first drive with a kickoff return to the 50 yard line.
On 3rd-and-9 from the Titans’ 49 yard line, Wallace snagged a pass from Roethlisberger for 11 yards. The play was initially ruled incomplete, but head coach Mike Tomlin threw the challenge flag and it was overturned.
That would prove to be critical as the Steelers found the endzone seven plays later. Roethlisberger found Miller for an 8-yard touchdown to cap a 10-play, 50-yard drive that put the Steelers up 7-3.
Tennessee was forced to punt on their next possession and were victimized by some trickery by the Steelers.
Pittsburgh was facing a 4th-and-5 from the 50 yard line and sent the punting team onto the field. Daniel Sepulveda faked the punt and found Ryan Mundy wide open downfield for a 33-yard gain.
Two plays later, Roethlisberger hooked up with Ward for a 7-yard touchdown to put Pittsburgh up 14-3 with 11:14 to play in the first half.
Tennessee was forced to punt again after just three plays, which gave the Steelers the ball back at their own 10 yard line with 9:21 to play in the second quarter.
Jonathan Dwyer opened the drive with a 76-yard run up the middle to give Pittsburgh a great opportunity to add to their lead and that’s just what they did.
On 2nd-and-goal from the 1 yard line, Roethlisberger rolled out and found Johnson for his third touchdown pass of the half to put Pittsburgh up 21-3.
The Steelers were looking like they would add to the lead even more before the half, but some apparent miscommunication ended the drive. With 20 seconds to go and the Steelers at the Titans’ 27 yard line, it appeared as if Roethlisberger was going to spike the ball to stop the clock. However, he attempted a quick pass that his receivers were not ready for and Cortland Finnegan easily picked it off.
The Steelers and Titans traded early possessions in the third quarter until the Steelers put together their fourth touchdown drive of the game.
Roethlisberger hooked up with Ward for a second time, from 8 yards out, to put Pittsburgh up 28-3 with 4:44 to play in the quarter.
Tennessee showed some signs of life as they marched down the field and scored their first touchdown of the game. Johnson’s 1-yard run capped a 9-play 77-yard drive to cut the lead to 28-10.
But a 19-yeard field goal by Shaun Suisham increased the Steelers lead to 31-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Late that quarter, the Titans cut the Steelers lead again, 31-17, with a touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Damian Williams.
But the Steelers answered right back with a touchdown of their own from Roethlisberger to Wallace to complete the scoring at 38-17.
The Steelers remain at home next week with a showdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars scheduled for Oct. 16 at 1 p.m.