Pittsboro, PA The Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers traded field goals for the majority of the Thursday night game that marked the start of Week 9, which was heralded by much fanfare following Tennessee Titans rookie Will Levis’ four-touchdown debut the previous week. Pittsburgh eventually managed to score late and hold off a last-ditch effort by the Titans, winning 20-16.
The Steelers’ wide receiver Diontae Johnson was found by quarterback Kenny Pickett for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter. While Levis dropped to 1-1 as a starter replacing the injured Ryan Tannehill, the victory enables the Steelers to stay in touch with the Baltimore Ravens, who are leading the AFC North (6-2).
With six seconds left on a third-and-5 play from the Pittsburgh 19-yard line, Levis threw his first interception of his young NFL career, allowing linebacker Kwon Alexander to seal the victory.
Steelers of Pittsburgh (5-3)
Let’s call him Kenny Return. It was the wide receiver’s first touchdown in 22 games when the second-year quarterback for the Steelers found Johnson to score the game-winning touchdown.
Even on a night when the run game amassed a season-high 167 yards and the defense limited Derrick Henry to less than 100 rushing yards, it’s never easy for this year’s Steelers squad. The Steelers now lead the NFL with four victories after trailing after three quarters after this victory. In the Super Bowl era, the four comeback victories are also equal for Pittsburgh’s second-most in a season.
QB breakdown: Pickett, who had only played four days prior, had a rough start to the game and only completed 53% of his passes in the first half due to a rib injury. Though it was only the Steelers‘ fourth first-drive touchdown in the previous three seasons and only their second with Pickett starting, the offense did manage to score a touchdown with Pickett leading the way. Pickett recovered with a far better second half following two three-and-outs, largely because of the development of the run game. Pickett completed 19 out of 30.for 160 yards with no interceptions, including a 32-yard pass to Johnson during the scoring drive. According to Next Gen Stats, the third-down pass, which covered a game-high 23 air yards, had an expected completion percentage of only 35.9. Pickett came under pressure at the second-lowest rate of his career (20%), but averaging 4.5 air yards per attempt, the second-lowest of his career.
Broderick Jones is the starting right tackle for the Steelers. Buy on a breakout performance. On a short week, Jones surprised everyone by unseating Chukwuma Okorafor. This was especially true given that Jones has spent the most of his practice and game time at left tackle. With a $13 million cap charge this season, Okorafor is the highest paid offensive lineman for the Steelers. However, Jones played a significant role in Thursday’s run game victory. He assisted Najee Harris in scoring the game’s first touchdown and set him up for his season-long 25-yard run in the second half. A season-high 5.5 yards per carry was also averaged by the run game, far exceeding its 3.6 average.
Unsettling trend: Wide receiver George Pickens has made spectacular catches in each of the previous three games, but the play has been ruled incomplete because he failed to get a second foot down. The one on Thursday cost his team a touchdown, even though the previous two were more about where the ball was placed during the throw. Pickens was the only player with the ball in the end zone after Pickett threw it there flawlessly, but Pickens’ second foot struck the sideline before descending into the end zone. Pickens had enough room to pull his toe, but he was too unaware to do so. Late in the third quarter, the Steelers opted for a field goal and a 13–13 tie rather than gaining a four-point advantage. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Pickens had the most receptions in the league going into the game with 11 made within two yards of a boundary during the previous two seasons. — Pryor Brooke