Titans again have flair for drama in win
Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 7:01 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans are certainly not afraid of a little drama.
With perhaps their season hanging in the balance, Rob Bironas kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Titans to a 26-23 upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night before an equally-divided sellout crowd at LP Field.
The much-needed win was just the second of the season for Tennessee (2-4) — both coming in dramatic fashion via the toe of Bironas — at least temporarily salvaging the 2012 campaign for the Titans whose four losses had all come by 21 points or more.
“I’m real proud because of everything we’ve been through the last couple of weeks,” Titans’ head coach Mike Munchak said afterward. “I’m proud of how we’ve handled ourselves when we haven’t played well, and I think the way we’ve won both of our games shows a little about the character of our team.
“We needed it (the win) badly. It’s only one win but it’s a great win.”
Bironas — whose 26-yard overtime field goal against Detroit was the difference in Tennessee’s other win this season — booted his fourth of the game Thursday to cap a finish that saw the Titans score on their final two possessions to erase a 23-16 Steeler lead.
Matt Hasselbeck threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt with 4:19 to play to cap an 80-yard drive and tie the game at 23.
Pittsburgh (2-3) then took the ensuing kickoff and moved inside Tennessee territory before Shaun Suisham was short on what would’ve been a career-long 54-yard field goal with 49 seconds to play.
The Titans took over at their own 45 and got a huge 25-yard pass play from Hasselbeck to tight-end Jared Cook on a 3rd-and-5 play to position themselves for Bironas’ game-winner that came after Tennessee had milked the clock down to four seconds and then called timeout.
“It was fun to watch our guys having success by simply just doing their jobs,” Munchak continued. “It felt good to hang in there and then step up and make plays. We did things good teams do and that we haven’t been doing and we didn’t do things that cost us the game.
“It wasn’t perfect, and it could’ve gone either way, but it showed us we don’t have to be perfect to win.”
Hasselbeck, who started for the second straight game in place of the injured Jake Locker, threw for 290 yards on 25-of-44 passing and much-maligned Chris Johnson rushed for 91 yards on 19 carries in a balanced Titan attack.
“If we can keep the score close, we’re a lot harder to defend with C.J. (Johnson) and our play-action game,” Munchak continued. “We’ve just gotten in such a big hole recently, we’ve had to abandon our run game.
“The last two drives showed what we are capable of doing.”
Ben Roethlisberger racked up 363 yards through the air for Pittsburgh, including a pretty 82-yard bomb to Mike Wallace for a touchdown on the Steelers’ second possession.
Suisham kicked three field goals and Baron Batch had a one-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter to give the visitors a 20-16 lead.
Tennessee had scored 13 unanswered points after falling behind 10-3 in the first period — Bironas hitting from 38 and 47 yards, the second on the final play before intermission — with Jamie Harper bowling into the endzone from one yard out in between those kicks.
“It was a good win against a good football team,” Munchak concluded. “I think it was fun to watch and I had a feeling it was going to the wire like it did and like the other game that we won.”
The Titans play at Buffalo Oct. 21 before returning home to face Indianapolis and No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck the following week.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.12.12