It’s been a big week for the city of Nashville. First, the new ABC drama “Nashville” premiered on Wednesday night to stellar reviews and ratings. Then the drama continued on national TV as the Pittsburgh Steelers came into town to take on the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. It was an easy bet to make for sports gamblers. While the Steelers have had their struggles this season, especially on the road, the Titans have proven to be one of the worst teams in the league. Ranking last or almost last in every defensive category, including points allowed, this game was already headed to a blowout before it even began.
And yet somehow, someway, the Titans found just enough of a spark to stay with Pittsburgh. Led by backup and 37 year-old veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, the Titans drove down on their first possession into Steelers territory to kick a field goal and set the pace. Later in the first quarter, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found wide receiver Mike Wallace for an 82-yard touchdown catch, bringing a silence to LP Field in Nashville. Then a mini-miracle happened as Titans linebacker Tim Shaw blocked a Steelers punt, leading to a one-yard touchdown run by Jamie Harper. Tennessee found themselves up 16-10 heading into half.
But the Steelers came out swinging after halftime. Pittsburgh put up 13 unanswered points to take the lead 23-16. The Titans were going to need some major help from the offense if they wanted to hang around in this game. Remember running back Chris Johnson and wide receiver Kenny Britt? The guys who have led Tennessee’s offense in recent years? Well, they made appearances Thursday night. And big ones at that. CJ2K ran for 91 yards, his second best game of the season, and provided some relief to Hasselbeck. Britt, who dropped some crucial balls over the course of the evening, connected with Hasselbeck on a 5-yard bobbling TD catch in the 4th quarter to tie the game.
So the Titans found themselves tied with the big bad men of Steel late in the 4th quarter with the ball in Big Ben’s hands. With one of the worst, if not the worst, defenses on the field, the odds were not in Tennessee’s favor. But some good tackling up front set the Steelers up for a 54-yard field goal try that fell just short of the posts. With 49 seconds on the clock, Hasselbeck, like the veteran QB he is, took control of the field. A big 25-yard catch to tight end Jared Cook set up a 40-yard Rob Bironas field goal try that he nailed as time expired. The Titans won 26-20.
See Related: Jared Cook: Titan’s Secret Weapon
So what did we learn in Nashville Thursday night? A few things. 1) There’s nobody you want more than Hasselbeck leading your team at the end of a game. He’s got a few years under his belt. 2) When Chris Johnson decides to show up and play, he ain’t half bad. 3) The Titans need a healthy and smart Kenny Britt. Desperately. And 4) The Steelers have a lot of questions to answer. Overall, this win was season saving for the Titans. Now at 2-4, they at least have momentum to build off of as they prepare for the lowly Bills next Sunday.