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The Pittsburgh Steelers could be without safety Troy Polamalu until after Halloween, after he re-injured his right calf against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. Polamalu is expected to miss four weeks, according to Steelers Depot.
Polamalu's absence was felt as the Titans gashed the middle of the field for big gains on the way to their game-tying touchdown drive. Tennessee picked up large chunks of yards again as the Titans engineered a last-minute drive for a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Steelers have already been without Polamalu for multiple games this season.. He missed two weeks after an injury to his calf in the season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos. The Steelers have struggled without their Pro Bowl safety in the lineup, and have stumbled out of the gate to a losing record at 2-3.
Pittsburgh will face the Cincinnati Bengals, without Polamalu, in its next game on Oct. 21.
After the game, reporters following the team took to Twitter to discuss what has, to this point, been an underwhelming season of football in Pittsburgh.
Dale Lolley, a Steelers writer for The Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pa., tweeted bluntly that the team faces "the reality that they just might not be very good."
Lolley followed that up with what he called a "Tomlinism," referring to head coach Mike Tomlin, when he tweeted, "the rubber has hit the road and the vehicle has hit a tree."
Elsewhere, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review correctly tweeted, "At least the Steelers won't lose on Sunday."
Mike Prisuta of WDVE 102.5 radio in Pittsburgh referred back to the Steelers' gritty 16-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5, tweeting that while the team's character may not be the issue, their ability, as evidenced by losing a late lead to the Titans, very well could be.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' injury list is a long one, but Mike Tomlin knows his squad could easily have left Tennessee with a win instead of a 26-23 defeat.
Tomlin dismissed questions about whether the injuries effected his team in a single word: "no". instead, he cited his team's need to perform better on the road, as they dropped to 0-3 away from Heinz Field:
"A disappointing performance tonight, but that is obviously what we are right now. We take ownership of that. We are not doing enough to finish games in hostile environments."
Tomlin acknowledged that the team made many mistakes that led to the loss, such as allowing a blocked punt that gave the Titans a short field.
Tomlin accepted responsibility for the decision to have Shaun Suisham attempt a 54-yarder with less than a minute left rather than attempting to pick up a fourth-down conversion. The head coach said that Suisham's had "banged the other (field goal) before pretty clean," so he gave his kicker the opportunity to win the game. Suisham's kick would have given the Steelers, rather than the Titans, the 26-23 lead; instead, it gave the Titans the ball on their own 44-yard line without much time on the clock. They moved the ball rather easily to set up a 40-yarder for Rob Bironas, who nailed the kick.
Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman were both battered and bruised in Thursday night's 26-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans, making their fantasy football status going forward uncertain for the time being.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that Mendenhall left with an Achilles injury and Redman, who was the team's leading receiver with 105 yards on four receptions, suffered an injured ankle.
With a long week of preparation ahead before the Steelers travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals Oct. 21, each back's possible role will likely not be determined right away.
However, for fantasy purposes, if one or both of the Mendenhall/Redman duo would be unavailable against Cincinnati, a possible waiver-wire selection would be running back Baron Batch. Batch led the team in carries, with 10, and rushing yards, with 22, as he also scored a touchdown on Thursday.
If Thursday night was any indication, Batch will be the back filling in if injuries in the backfield linger into Week 7.
Taylor, who before the season restructured his contract to make it worth nearly $5 million a season, was picked on all night by the 37-year-old quarterback as he often converted to receivers theoretically guarded by Taylor. Although Kenny Britt dropped some passes, he still had four receptions for 62 yards including a touchdown. Taylor was tagged for three penalties in pass coverage, nearly half of the seven the Steelers were called for on the evening.
Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain discussed Taylor's sub-par game in his immediate post-game recap, and then tabbed the cornerback as one of the "losers" in the defeat:
It was easily Taylor's worst game of the season, appearing to be out of position several times, and simply beaten off the line in several others. If not for wide receiver Kenny Britt's silicon-coated hands, the Titans passing numbers would look much better than they ultimately did.
The tenth-year player out of Louisiana-Lafayette was as displeased with his performance as anybody, taking to Twitter after the game to accept responsibility for his poor outing:
#RUFFnight I no y'all suppose to be pissed off...and I totally except and understand...gotta get back in the LAB period...G night & G morn.— Ike Taylor (@Ike_SwagginU) October 12, 2012
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost more than a game on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans, as head coach Mike Tomlin ran down eight newly injured players in the 26-23 loss to go along with two who were already inactive for Week 6.
Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey sustained a MCL injury early in the game and did not return, though Tomlin, according to a report from the Steelers Depot, didn't have specifics post-game and said Pouncey would need to be further evaluated.
Starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert also left the game in the second quarter after injuring his right ankle, and linebackers Brandon Johnson and Chris Carter were both hampered with hamstring injuries.
Safeties Ryan Clark (hip pointer) and Will Allen (neck stinger) both suffered injuries but were able to return to action Thursday night. The defense was already playing without Troy Polamalu (calf injury) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), who were inactive for Week 6.
The Steelers are off to an awful 2-3 start after their loss to the Titans on Thursday. That's the bad news. But wait -- there's even worse news, as Ed Bouchette points out. In compiling that 2-3 record, the Steelers have only played one team (the Eagles) that currently has a winning record.
The Steelers really have themselves in a hole after losing to teams like the Raiders. Now they have to play teams like the Giants and Bengals that are actually pretty competitive. These games aren't unwinnable for the Steelers, and it's worth pointing out that, for all the hand-wringing going on in Steeler Nation this morning, two of their losses have been by only three points, and the Steelers have scored one more point than they've allowed so far. Still, it looks awfully likely that this simply isn't as good a Steelers team as we're used to seeing. At this point, that opinion is likely to persist unless they can win at least a couple of their next three games.
The Steelers let a late lead slip away on the road to the Tennessee Titans, losing on a last second Rob Bironas field goal, 26-23. Behind the Steel Curtain reacts.
Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham missed a 54-yard attempt with under a minute to play in regulation, and on the ensuing drive Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hit tight end Jared Cook for a 25-yard gain to set up the winning 40-yard field goal from kicker Rob Bironas.
With under five minutes remaining in the fourth, Hasselbeck hit receiver Kenny Britt for a 5-yard touchdown to tie the score at 23. The touchdown completed an 11-play, 80-yard Tennessee drive in just under four minutes.
Prior to that, Pittsburgh got a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Baron Batch early in the fourth, capping off a 15-play, 80-yard drive that gave the Steelers a 20-16 lead. Suisham drilled a 52-yard field goal midway through the final frame, his third make of the night, giving Pittsburgh the 23-16 advantage.
In throwing for 363 yards, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger surpassed Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw as the franchise's all-time passing leader. Bradshaw's previous record was 27,989 yards through the air. Roethlisberger finished the night going 24-of-40 with one touchdown, an 82-yard strike to receiver Mike Wallace in the first quarter, and one interception.
After getting outscored 10-0 in the second quarter, largely due to a punt blocked by the Titans late in the first quarter that led to a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Tennessee running back Jamie Harper, the Steelers got the third started by tacking on a 28-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham. With Suisham's second made attempt of the night, the Steelers cut the Tennessee lead to 16-13 and scored the only points of the quarter.
Pittsburgh trails heading into the final frame despite outgaining the Titans in total yards, 332 to 224.
The Tennessee Titans opened up the scoring against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, taking an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's 82-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Wallace gave Pittsburgh the 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter of play.
Roethlisberger hit Wallace on a high-arching toss on the Steelers' first play of their second drive.
The Titans took the game's first possession 69 yards in nine plays, setting up a 22-yard field goal by kicker Rob Bironas that, as you can see below, bonked sideways off an upright and in.
Pittsburgh responded on their opening drive of the contest with a 29-yard field goal by kicker Shaun Suisham after marching 44 yards in seven plays. The drive's big play came when Roethlisberger hit running back Isaac Redman for a 33-yard completion on a third-and-6 from around midfield.
Late in the quarter, Tennessee drove 52 yards in eight plays, and Bironas knocked in a 38-yard field goal to narrow the Steelers' lead to four.
For Thursday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans, optimism is not high for the writers at the Titans blog, Music City Miracles. Out of six writers who made predictions for this game, only one predicts victory for the Titans, 10-9:
If the Titans show up and play like their season depends on it, (because it does) then we have a hell of a chance to pull out a win. I know what Locker is made of; let's see if the rest of the team has what it takes to WSS.
Titans 10 - Steelers 9
All of the other predictions on this blog have the Steelers winning by at least two scores. The common thread between these writers think that this is a game that could get ugly if allowed to.
So I am driving to Nashville tomorrow for the apparent bloodletting. I have never been so maah about going to LP Field. I am really not looking forward to it. I will, however, be in my seat, wearing my throwback #9 and cheering my Titans. Let's hope they give me something to cheer about.
Steelers 38 - Titans 10
Four other writers on Music City Miracles picked the Steelers to win, with only one predicting that the Steelers would not break 30 points. The Steelers play the Titans at LP Field Thursday night at 8:20 p.m., with coverage on NFL Network.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Weslye Saunders is eligible to be activated after serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drug policy. In an interview with Ralph N. Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Saunders believes that he is ready to go:
"I really feel good, but I don't know what coach (Mike Tomlin) is going to decide," Saunders said. "But I feel good and confident that I'm ready to play."
If Saunders is activated for Thursday's game against the Tennessee Titans, he will likely play special teams. Saunders said that the most difficult part of the suspension was watching the team's two losses:
"Especially with the two losses," Saunders said. "For the most part, (the suspension) went real fast - except on Sunday. I can't wait to get on the field."
Saunders will be pressured to keep up with the progress that offensive coordinator Todd Haley makes in their playbook. Haley though knows that Saunders is just trying to get back in the fold:
"Like everybody else across the board, the guys that give us the best chance to win each and every week, those will be the guys helping us," Haley said. "(Saunders) is just trying to get back in the flow right now.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had their best running game of the year last week against the Philadelphia Eagles with Rashard Mendenhall back in the running back rotation, something they'll hope to turn into a trend Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.
Mendenhall looked fine in his return from offseason ACL surgery, running for 68 yards, receiving for 33 and scoring a touchdown. But the ground game wasn't limited to Mendenhall: Isaac Redman had his best game of the season with 41 yards. A team that had one of the league's worst running attacks entering the game busted out for 125 yards combined on the ground, nearly twice the team's previous season average. They'll try to keep it up against Tennessee, as Neil Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain writes:
It's likely the Steelers continue to ride their hot hand on the ground. Their offensive line is just four days removed from its best performance of the season, racking up 125 rushing yards against Philadelphia. It was the manner in which they earned those yards more than the gains themselves. They were physical up front and finished off blocks with a sense of "nasty" they haven't had in some time.
On defense, a team without Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley will try to punish the Titans' offense, which didn't look great with Jake Locker and has looked worse with his replacement, Matt Hasselbeck, since Locker left the game two weeks ago against the Houston Texans. The Titans will likely try to move the ball with Chris Johnson, but Pittsburgh shut down LeSean McCoy last week, holding him to 53 yards on 16 carries.
Despite coming off a rather disappointing week, fantasy-wise in Week 5, the Pittsburgh Steelers are ripe for a big week for fantasy owners when they face Tennessee Thursday night, Behind the Steel Curtain writes .
BtSC advises starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Rashard Mendenhall, wide receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, tight end Heath Miller, the Steelers' defense and kicker Shaun Suisham. The players they advise sitting are running backs Isaac Redman, Chris Rainey, Jonathan Dwyer and Baron Batch, saying that there's no need now that Mendenhall is back. They also advise sitting wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery.
The writers project that Roethlisberger will throw for over 300 yards and throw three touchdowns, one each to Wallace, Brown and Miller. They also project over 100 all-purpose yards for Mendenhall with a rushing touchdown. Suisham is projected for eight points: five extra points and a field goal. Finally the defense is projected to hold the Titans to 220 yards, allow 10 points and grab two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter Thursday's game against the Tennessee Titans as 6-point favorites.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will seek their second straight win against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.
Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall and linebacker James Harrison are both probable for Pittsburgh's Thursday night primetime game against the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers had the second-worst rushing attack in the league prior to Mendenhall's season debut against the Eagles last week. He rushed for 81 yards on 14 attempts and instantly provided a nice boost to the rushing game. The fourth-year back is still working his way back from knee surgery after tearing his ACL on Jan. 1 last season.
Harrison made two solo tackles in his season debut last week, and he continues to deal with his own knee issue. As expected, his defensive teammates, Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley, have been ruled out. Polamalu had a recurring calf injury bother him against the Eagles on a non-contact play on the sideline.
The Steelers are road favorites in Week 6 against a Titans team that has been blown out in four of five games this season. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET in Nashville.
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