Thursday Night Football mayhem continued, as Rob Bironas nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Tennessee Titans a dramatic 26-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers were bombarded with injuries, as Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman all left the game, but with every active lineman on the roster in the game and a third-string running back behind him, Ben Roethlisberger still had this team in position to seemingly win the game.
Not in Matt Hasselbeck's book.
The veteran QB led two drives under the seven-minute mark in the fourth quarter to provide the Titans with 10 unanswered points and a three-point win.
The Steelers fell to 2-3 while the Titans moved to 2-4.
Chris Johnson was better than he's been for the most part of this season (which, of course, isn't saying a whole lot), but he still looked hesitant at times. Luckily for us, Yahoo! Sports' Doug Farrar got into Johnson's head:
"I woulda broken that big run, if it wasn't for those darned offensive linemen." -- Chris Johnson, channeling his inner Scooby-Doo villian— SC_DougFarrar (@SC_DougFarrar) October 12, 2012
In the first quarter, Mike Wallace pulled down an 82-yard touchdown pass. That might be a career high for most receivers, but it was just Mike being Mike. Via ESPN Stats & Info:
Mike Wallace has 3 80+ yard touchdown receptions since 2011, most in the NFL— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 12, 2012
Of course, with the exception of that big touchdown, the Titans defense, which was arguably the worst in the NFL coming in, played quite well in the first half. Via the Tennessee Titans' official Twitter account:
With a catch in the second half, tight end Heath Miller continued his assault on Pittsburgh's record books. From the Pittsburgh Steelers' official Twitter account:
With that catch, Heath Miller passes Louis Lipps for the 3rd most receptions in franchise history.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 12, 2012
Yahoo! Sports' Brad Evans tweeted what we were all thinking when Baron Batch entered the backfield for the Steelers and produced not only some nice runs, but a touchdown:
Damn Charlie Batch is looking spry.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) October 12, 2012
Kenny Britt caught a huge late fourth-quarter TD after dropping a pass on the play before. As Yahoo! Sports' Doug Farrar notes, it's lucky he had Matt Hasselbeck as his QB:
One thing I know about Matt Hasselbeck from his time in Seattle: he's not afraid to go back to receivers who drop the damned ball.— SC_DougFarrar (@SC_DougFarrar) October 12, 2012
If Rashard Mendenhall earned your trust with his return to action last week, you probably aren't happy right now. Mendy tallied six rushing yards on six carries and added 11 receiving yards before leaving with an Achilles injury.
Pretty much every other Steeler, however, produced a big game. Big Ben threw for 363 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Isaac Redman caught four passes for 105 yards. Heath Miller pulled in six for 67. Mike Wallace added two catches for 94 yards and the big touchdown.
Antonio Brown was disappointing, however, with four catches for 20 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Matt Hasselbeck would have been a great fill-in play with 290 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Chris Johnson didn't hurt owners as usual, he tallied 91 rushing yards on 19 carries to go along with 23 receiving yards.
Kenny Britt tried to drop a solid fantasy day away, but made his owners happy by pulling in 62 yards and a touchdown. Kendall Wright added 71 yards, Nate Washington had 57 and Jared Cook added 54.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: B+
It wasn't a spectacular game from Big Ben. He threw for 363 yards, but he also threw it 40 times, completed just 60 percent of those throws and saw a lot of his yards come from one big play to Mike Wallace and a lot of YAC by Isaac Redman.
Of course, it also wasn't a bad game, either. He did turn the ball over one time, but considering his lack of an offensive line and the fact he put his team in a position to win in the fourth quarter, he deserves a very good grade.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: C-
Give the Titans' defense credit here.
Brown was targeted 10 times (most on the team) but only pulled in four catches for just 20 yards. He was bottled up downfield and tackled quickly when he usually racks up yards after the catch.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee Titans: A
Up until the last seven minutes of the game, it was a mediocre game for Matt Hasselbeck.
But then he led a clutch touchdown drive to tie the game up at 23 and another clutch drive in under a minute to win the game, so his 57 percent completion percentage, 290 somewhat inefficient yards, one touchdown and one interception look much, much better.
Hasselbeck could still start for plenty of teams in this league.
Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee Titans: B
On the one hand, Johnson had his second-best game of the season, totaling 114 total yards from scrimmage.
On the other, he probably should have had a lot more. There were times when Johnson showed flashes of his 2009 self, but there were other times when he still looked hesitant, lacked explosiveness and missed huge open running lanes.
Nonetheless, it had to be an encouraging performance for Titans fans.
The Steelers head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals for Sunday Night Football, while the Titans go to Buffalo to meet the struggling Bills on Sunday afternoon.