Titans vs. Steelers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Tennessee
It was the Titans' first win in a regular-season opener since 2010 and their second straight win in their rivalry with the Steelers.
Both offense and defense made significant plays to grind out the win, and there is definitely reason for hope as the Titans prepare for the Houston Texans in Week 2.
Here are your full roster report card grades in a 16-9 victory against the Steelers.
Jake Locker did what he had to do to keep the Titans in this game, and ultimately win it pretty comfortably despite a late effort by Ben Roethlisberger to make it interesting.
It wasn't always pretty, and the numbers for Locker are definitely pretty low as he just threw for 125 yards with a completion percentage of 55 percent.
However, Locker still managed the game effectively. He had a couple of key runs, while also avoiding the big turnover.
The Titans will need him to do more in other games down the road, but he managed the game well enough to get the Titans their first win in a regular-season opener since 2010.
Running Back: B-
Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle
The Titans completely ran the ball all over the Steelers, and it started with Chris Johnson. He didn't always get huge chunks of yardage, but he did a great job of moving the ball forward to set up manageable second and third downs.
Johnson finished the game with 70 rushing yards, but the yards-per-attempt average is something you would like to see improve in the future.
The fact that the Titans stuck with the run even when it wasn't yielding big yardage shows that they plan to be a run-heavy team for 2013.
Shonn Greene had just four carries in the game, which was somewhat of a surprise. He did make the most out of his limited role as he finished with over four yards per carry.
Jackie Batttle's fourth-down conversion in the second quarter that led to the only Titans touchdown has to be one of the key plays of the game. It swung the momentum to the Titans' favor after that ugly safety occurred to start the game.
It seems that Battle is going to play a bigger role in the offense than Greene on some occasions. He finished this game with 21 yards and a touchdown.
Wide Receivers: B
Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Damian Williams, Kendall Wright
This just wasn't a game that lent itself to a lot of passing plays, and it showed in the box score. However, big props have to be given out to Nate Washington for showing up against his former team.
Washington had four catches for 46 yards, including a big 14-yard catch to convert a third down that led to a Titans field goal.
The other receivers had trouble getting open. Kenny Britt had just two targets all day, and Kendall Wright struggled to ever really get into the game.
If it wasn't for Washington's gritty performance, then this unit would've been a complete bust in Week 1.
Tight Ends: C-
Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson
The tight end position didn't really show up in the Titans' big win over the Steelers, with the exception of a 25-yard reception by Walker that converted a 3rd-and-15.
Walker did fumble on that same play, and the Titans were extremely lucky to get that ball back with the score still 7-2. If the Steelers get that football at midfield, things could've ended a lot differently.
Both Stevens and Thompson were missing in action in this game, and they'll need to show up in Week 2 against a much better Texans offense if the Titans are going to keep up on the scoreboard.
Offensive Line: A
Anytime you can hold a Steelers defense to just one sack on your quarterback, you have to show some serious love to the offense line.
The Steelers managed just one sack and three hits on Locker. Locker definitely dealt with his fair share of pressure, but he still had a decent amount of time to throw for most of the day.
The running game was a whole different story. It never really got into a steady flow even though the Titans continued to stick with it until the end.
Big running lanes were few and far between for Chris Johnson, and the yards he did manage were usually due to just some hard running by Titans running backs.
For as gritty of a game as this turned out to be, the offensive line still deserves a lot of credit in this road victory to open up the regular season. It had just one penalty as a unit, which turned out to be an unnecessary roughness penalty on David Stewart.
The players will have their hands full again in Week 2 when they have to deal with J.J. Watt and the Texans on the road again.
Defensive Line: A+
Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan, Mike Martin, Sammie Hill, Ropati Pitoitua
The Titans defense really stepped up in a big way in this game thanks to a defensive line that put pressure on Roethlisberger from start to finish.
Jurrell Casey had two sacks, and Derrick Morgan added a sack as well.
Roethlisberger wasn't the only one having a rough day thanks to the Titans defensive line. The Steelers rushing attack managed just 19 yards, while average barely over two yards per carry.
The play by this unit was what really won the game for the Titans. Roethlisberger never had a comfortable pocket to throw in, and his offense was made to be one dimensional.
This unit had a lot of question swirling around it heading into the regular season, but it certainly stepped up on this occasion.
Zach Brown, Moise Fokou, Akeem Ayers
This unit was widely considered the strongest unit of the entire team heading into the regular season, and Zach Brown helped us realize why that could be the case.
Brown finished the game with two sacks, a pass deflection and eight total tackles. He could be poised for a breakout year after the way he ended the 2012 season on such a high note.
Moise Fokou has taken over the role that was vacated by the injured Colin McCarthy. He also played well enough in this game for the Titans to feel confident in him to remain the starter for as long as it takes.
This unit also did a superb job of containing Steelers tight ends and taking full advantage of the fact that Pittsburgh was without Heath Miller. It ended up being a solid start to 2013 for this unit.
Defensive Backs: B
Alterraun Verner, Jason McCourty, Coty Sensabaugh, Bernard Pollard, Michael Griffin, George Wilson
A big reason why the Titans have very few people who think they can do much this season is due to their secondary that is very much the same outside of the additions of Bernard Pollard and George Wilson.
They took advantage of a strong Titans pass rush to keep the Steelers from ever connecting on the big play down the field. The Steelers no longer having Mike Wallace also played a huge role.
However, the Steelers still had the weapons to have a strong passing performance if this unit wasn't improved from last year's unit that allowed 471 points.
Alterraun Verner was easily the star of this unit after making that amazing interception when the game was still in favor of the Steelers at 2-0.
It's hard to believe that Verner was actually battling for his starting job heading into training camp with the likes of rookie Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Tommie Campbell.
The following Titans drive led to the first touchdown that swung momentum to the Titans' favor heading into the locker room.
We'll find out how much improved this unit really is in Week 2 against the Texans, but this was still a promising performance against a Steelers passing offense that is pretty thin.
Special Teams: C+
There hasn't been a worse blunder to open up a regular season than what Darius Reynaud managed to do within the first three seconds of the game. Giving his own team a safety was one of those freak accidents that sometimes happen on special teams.
The game could have gotten ugly really fast if the Steelers could have managed to score quickly on the first drive to make it a two-possession game.
Reynaud actually did end up having a respectable showing outside of that. He ended up returning five punts for an average of over 11 yards per return.
Rob Bironas was his reliable self by connecting on three field goals and keeping the Steelers from ever having an opportunity to take back the lead.
Punters always get overlooked, but Brett Kern had an excellent game. He put the Steelers inside their own 20-yard line four different times in a game where yards were hard to come by for either team. That proved to be huge for the Titans in this game.
You take out the one play by Reynaud that will end up on someone's sports bloopers, and you have a perfect grade for this unit.
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