Titans' Boiman registers safety, INT return for TD


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Nobody beats the Pittsburgh Steelers more consistently than the Tennessee Titans. Nobody plays better against them than Steve McNair.

McNair, again nearly mistake-free and opportunistic against the team he dominates like no other, threw three touchdown passes following Steelers mistakes and Tennessee beat Pittsburgh for the third time in less than a year, 30-13 Sunday.

Question on the Titans: How impressed were you with Tennessee's comeback on the road?
Every week, it seems Tennessee gets someone injured and McNair continues to play at a high level. He's become the Energizer bunny of the NFL. He's their catalyst and as long as he's in there, nothing is surprising from this team.

Question on the Steelers: How have the better defenses gone about containing Pittsburgh's offense?
Pittsburgh's offense has no balance. They're making a transition from a team that was led by the run to one that is led by the pass. Even though they don't need Jerome Bettis or Amos Zereoue to rush for 100 + yards to win, they do need a decent rushing attack to win. With no true rushing attack, they can't fully utilize their play-action pass and are forced into bad passes.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

The Steelers led 10-0 before the Titans had a first down, but three costly mistakes by quarterback Tommy Maddox were turned into Titans scores. Backup linebacker Rocky Boiman enjoyed a career day, returning a Maddox interception 59 yards for a touchdown and sacking Maddox for a safety that started Tennessee's comeback.

McNair, who has eight touchdown passes and only one interception this season, threw touchdown passes of 10 yards to Drew Bennett, 1 to Erron McKinney and 29 to Justin McCareins as the Titans (3-1) beat the Steelers (2-2) for the 10th time in 12 games, including their 34-31 overtime playoff victory in January.

McNair, 15-of-16 for 161 yards, is 10-3 against the Steelers,
throwing 19 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. Coach
Jeff Fisher is 11-6 against them -- easily the best record of any
opposing AFC coach against the Steelers' Bill Cowher.

The Titans also have won four of five in Pittsburgh.

In a game of contrasts -- the Steelers dominated the first half
while the Titans controlled the second half -- the one constant was
Maddox's penchant for committing a key mistake at the worst time.

With the Steelers driving in final minute of the first half,
cornerback Samari Rolle jumped in front of Plaxico Burress for an
interception he returned to the Steelers' 1. McNair hit McKinney for the score two plays later, and the Titans had a 16-13 lead they never lost.

Later, after safety Tank Williams' partial block of Jeff Reed's failed 30-yard field goal attempt led to McCareins' touchdown catch, Williams came out of the secondary to hit Maddox just as he was throwing. Maddox's off-balance throw was intercepted by Boiman,
whose touchdown return made it 30-13 early in the fourth.

Maddox (31-of-47, 315 yards) is 0-3 against the Titans, starting
with the 31-23 loss at Tennessee on Nov. 27 when he was temporarily
paralyzed by a Keith Bulluck hit.

The Titans had run only three plays from scrimmage when the Steelers took their 10-0 lead on Amos Zereoue's 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. The Steelers earlier turned a 16-play drive into Reed's 26-yard field goal.

But after Craig Hentrich's punt backed the Steelers up to their
5, Boiman -- replacing the injured Peter Sirmon -- broke through to
sack Maddox along the goal line for a safety. Fisher successfully
challenged the original ruling that Maddox had leaned across the
goal line with the ball before being tackled.

On the first play following the free kick, McNair found Bennett
behind cornerback Chad Scott for 42 yards to the Steelers' 13, then
hit Bennett with cornerback Dewayne Washington in coverage to cut
the Steelers' lead to 10-9.

Boiman stepped in after Sirmon injured his back on the Titans'
opening drive. Until Sunday, Boiman had only a half-sack and no
interceptions in his two-season career.