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(Sunday, September 8th)
Final Score: Tennessee 16, Pittsburgh 9
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - The Tennessee Titans overcame a mistake on the opening kickoff to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-9, in the first game of the season for both teams.
The Titans (1-0) scored 16 straight points after return man Darius Reynaud's mental mistake gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead just seconds into the game.
Jake Locker completed 11-of-20 passes for 125 yards for Tennessee, which went 6-10 last season. Jackie Battle scored his first touchdown as a member of the Titans.
"Yes, we were a little sloppy at spots, yes we wish we scored more points," Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said. "And we'll fix some of those things. But we did what we had to do to win the football game."
Ben Roethlisberger connected on 21-of-33 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and an interception for the Steelers (0-1), who came in with 10 straight victories in home openers, the longest active streak in the league.
Pittsburgh, which was held to 32 yards rushing, lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and linebacker Larry Foote to serious injuries. Pouncey will undergo surgery after injuring his ACL and MCL. Foote ruptured his bicep and will need surgery as well.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Nobody cares about our problems. They're glad we've got them. We need to understand that. We need to stick together and persevere."
The Titans brought in Gregg Williams as a senior assistant defensive coach in the offseason. Williams, of course, is back from a one-year NFL-imposed exile after the bounty issues that emanated from New Orleans two years ago. The former defensive coordinator's impact was immediate for Tennessee, which allowed a league-worst 29.4 points per game last season.
The Steelers, who went 8-8 in 2012, jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead thanks to a mistake by Reynaud on the opening kickoff. Reynaud stood on the goal line as a short kick bounced in front of him. He took one step out of the end zone, picked up the ball, then took a knee in the end zone for a safety.
Pittsburgh was marching down the field when they lost Pouncey to a right knee injury. With Kelvin Beachum now playing center, the Steelers faced a 3rd-and-1 from the six. Isaac Redman failed to control the ball after taking a handoff from Roethlisberger. Moise Fokou recovered the ball for the Titans.
Tennessee moved the ball down to the Pittsburgh 30-yard line. However, Delanie Walker was called for offensive pass interference on third down. The penalty forced the visitors to punt the ball.
Roethlisberger threw an interception midway through the second quarter, which led to Tennessee's first touchdown of the season. Battle picked up a 4th-and-1 before capping a 12-play drive with a 3-yard TD run.
The Titans added to their lead in the third stanza. Walker's 25-yard catch led to Rob Bironas' 26-yard field goal with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh failed to find a rhythm on offense. The home team ended with zero first downs in the period.
Bironas added a 44-yarder with six minutes left in the fourth quarter to make it 13-2 Tennessee.
Following another Pittsburgh punt, Reynaud returned the ball 27 yards to put the Titans in the red zone. Bironas made a 27-yard field goal to make it 16-2.
Pittsburgh's offense finally put together a scoring drive, but it proved to be too little, too late. Jerricho Cotchery's 4-yard TD catch cut the gap to 16-9 with 1:23 to play.
The Titans recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Pittsburgh came into the game without the services of rookie running back Le'Veon Bell and tight end Heath Miller ... Titans wide receiver Nate Washington caught four passes for 46 yards to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 79 (65 games with Titans) ... Tennessee running back Shonn Greene left the game with a right knee injury ... Pittsburgh was limited to 195 total yards ... The Steelers saw cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (knee) leave the game with injuries.
09/08 18:12:12 ET