Titans 10

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Steelers 13

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:30 PM ET, September 10, 2009

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA 

1 2 3 4 OT T
TEN 0 7 0 3 010
PIT 0 7 0 3 313

Top Performers

Passing: B. Roethlisberger (PIT) - 363 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: C. Johnson (TEN) - 15 CAR, 57 YDS

Receiving: S. Holmes (PIT) - 9 REC, 131 YDS, 1 TD

Reed's 33-yard field goal caps Roethlisberger's big passing night

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers apparently are going to stay with this Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes combination until somebody beats them.

Jeff Reed kicked a 33-yard field goal with 4:32 gone in overtime and the Super Bowl champion Steelers again relied on Roethlisberger's ability to lead clutch scoring drives to beat the Tennessee Titans 13-10 in the NFL season opener Thursday night.

The Steelers, their running game stuffed by Tennessee's defense, didn't get going until Roethlisberger began repeatedly finding Holmes and Hines Ward open downfield. Roethlisberger went 33 of 43 for 363 yards, with Holmes -- the Super Bowl star -- making nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown and Ward, despite a potentially costly fumble, making eight for 103.

Fast Facts

• Jeff Reed's 32-yard field goal with less than three minutes to play tied the game, and his 33-yarder in overtime gave the Steelers their seventh straight season-opening victory -- the longest active Week 1 win streak in the NFL.

• The last time the Steelers scored fewer than 20 points in a season-opening win was in 1979 when they won at New England 16-13 in overtime.

• Hines Ward fumbled late in the fourth quarter, costing the Steelers a chance to win the game in regulation after the Titans recovered. The last time Ward lost a fumble in his career was in Week 9 of the 2006 season in a 30-21 loss to the Broncos.

• Santonio Holmes set a career high with nine receptions. His 131 yards marked the second-highest total of his regular-season career.

• The Steelers are now 6-0 at Heinz Field in Week 1 openers, making them the 10th straight Super Bowl champion to win their opener the following season.

-- ESPN stats & information

• Rapid Reaction

Holmes' statistics were exactly the same as the Super Bowl, when he caught the winning 6-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger in the final minute to beat Arizona 27-23.

Thursday's victory might be costly, however -- star safety Troy Polamalu, the best player on the field during the first half, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on a blocked field goal. Coach Mike Tomlin said the injury usually sidelines a player 3 to 6 weeks.

"It is speculation at this point [how long he will be out]," Tomlin said.

The Titans lost the coin toss to start the overtime and, as so often happens, never saw the ball again. Roethlisberger, who led a touchdown drive at the end of the first half, hit Ward for 11 yards, Holmes for 11 and rookie Mike Wallace for 22. Unwilling to risk a turnover, the Steelers kicked the field goal on first down to win it.

Walker: No Huddle, No Problem

After stalling most of the night, the Steelers flipped the switch, ditched the huddle and went Tom Brady on the Titans to the tune of 363 passing yards, James Walker writes. Blog

"It's nice to know we can win close games," Reed said. "This is my eighth year here and I've been in a lot of close games, and we usually are on the up side of those."

While the Steelers ended up winning on two Reed field goals, the Titans may have lost because Rod Bironas twice couldn't convert from inside the 40.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't beat the Tennessee Titans, the Tennessee Titans beat the Tennessee Titans," said wide receiver Nate Washington, the former Steelers player.

Pittsburgh looked ready to win it late in regulation when Roethlisberger, so adept at running the two-minute offense, took advantage of good field position created by a shanked Craig Hentrich punt to find Ward on a 30-yard completion to the Titans 4. But as Ward was trying to muscle his way closer to the goal line, Michael Griffin stripped the ball and Stephen Tulloch recovered with less than a minute remaining.

What Pressure?

The Titans' standard four-man rush seemed to miss Albert Haynesworth's presence. Although Tennessee forced two picks with standard pressure, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers shredded it for 320 yards through the air.

By Type of Pass Pressure
Standard Added Pressure
Comp-Att 27-35 6-8
Pass yds 320 43
TD-Int 1-2 0-0
Sacked 2 2

Even with no running game to support him -- the Steelers were outrushed 86-36 as Willie Parker was held to 19 yards on 13 carries -- Roethlisberger had the third-most productive passing game of his career. Tennessee's Kerry Collins, usually the caretaker of a run-first offense, was 22 of 35 for 244 yards after having only four games of 200 yards or more last season.

The Titans never led until Bironas connected from 45 yards with 11:03 remaining, making it 10-7, after Collins kept the drive moving with 15-yard completions to rookie Kenny Britt and Justin Gage.

"We had chances and opportunities but missed a field goal, had a field goal blocked," coach Jeff Fisher said. "I believe we've got a good football team in that locker room and we're going to bounce back."

The Steelers tied it on Reed's 32-yarder with 2:57 to go, but only after Mewelde Moore was held to 1 yard on two plays. Reed, under pressure, barely got off a low line drive that squeezed through the uprights.

Roethlisberger was 7 of 7 for 57 yards on the drive but the Steelers' game-long lack of a running game again caused a drive to stall after they had a second-and-2 at the 10.

The Titans were the last team to beat the Steelers, winning 31-17 on Dec. 21 to gain home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, but they never won again and the Steelers never lost again. Still, Steelers' fans remembered how LenDale White, Keith Bulluck and several Titans players stomped all over Terrible Towels at the end of the game, and it created a buzz of anticipation for a rematch that appeared likely to occur in January but didn't.

Instead, this game wasn't a throwback to last season, but to the 1970s, when the Titans' predecessors, the Oilers, twice met and lost to the Steelers and their famed Steel Curtain defense in the AFC championship game. All that was missing were some Jack Lambert hits on Earl Campbell.

"It was a 15-round, old-school Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight that went the distance," Bulluck said.

The Titans spent the first quarter tromping on a Steelers offense that managed all of 1 yard. Then, after Bironas' 31-yarder was blocked by Aaron Smith -- he missed earlier from the 27 following a bad snap -- both teams suddenly found their offenses.

"I got my hand up," Smith said. "I jumped and my vertical is probably not that good, but ..."

Roethlisberger, again a master of the two-minute drive, needed only five plays to lead a 79-yard drive in which he found familiar target Ward for 29 yards ahead of his 34-yard touchdown throw to Holmes.

Yes, those two again.

With the Steelers defense missing both Polamalu, who had earlier made a remarkable, one-handed interception, and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (leg cramps), the Titans needed only three plays to tie it. Collins found Britt with no defender within 10 yards on him for a 57-yard completion to the 14. Collins then hit an equally wide open Justin Gage in the end zone with 48 seconds left in the half. Britt, the first-round pick, made four catches for 85 yards.

Game notes

The Steelers have won their last seven openers, the longest ongoing streak ... The returning Super Bowl champion has won its opener for 10 consecutive seasons. ... Roethlisberger is 4-0 with nine TD passes and two interceptions in openers. ... Tennessee started 10-0 last season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1819
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6170
Total Yards320357
Yards per play5.25.1
Total Drives1213
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-30-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

pitTD1:29Santonio Holmes 34 Yard Pass From Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 79 yds, 0:52
tenTD0:53Justin Gage 14 Yard Pass From Kerry Collins (Rob Bironas Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 71 yds, 0:34
tenFG11:08Rob Bironas 45 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 36 yds, 3:43
pitFG3:00Jeff Reed 32 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 12 plays, 56 yds, 8:06
pitFG10:34Jeff Reed 33 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 63 yds, 4:32