PITTSBURGH — Thursday night’s game started Week 9 with much fanfare after the Tennessee Titans rookie Will LewisAfter a four-touchdown debut last week, Pittsburgh was able to score late most of the night before the Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers traded field goals and held off a last-gasp effort by the Titans in a 20-16 win.
With 4:02 left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett Wide receiver found Deontay Johnson for a 3-yard touchdown. The win allowed the Steelers to keep pace with the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (6-2) as Levis fell to 1-1 as a starter filling in for the injured. Ryan Tannehill.
linebacker Kwon Alexander He was able to seal the victory when Levis threw the first interception of his young NFL career on third-and-5 from the Pittsburgh 19-yard line with six seconds left.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
Call him Kenny Comeback. The Steelers’ second-year quarterback was able to deliver the game-winner to Johnson, the wide receiver’s first touchdown in 22 games.
It was never easy for this year’s Steelers team — even on a night where the run game recorded a season-high 167 yards and the defense held. Derrick Henry Under 100 rushing yards. With the win, the Steelers have an NFL-leading four wins when trailing after three quarters. The four comeback wins are also Pittsburgh’s second-most in a season in the Super Bowl era.
QB Breakdown: Playing with a rib injury just four days earlier against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pickett got off to a poor start in the first half, completing just 53% of his passes. But Pickett and the offense scored a first-drive touchdown, the Steelers’ seventh opening-drive touchdown in the past three seasons and second with Pickett as the starter. After two three-and-outs, Pickett bounced back with a much better second half, thanks in large part to the emergence of the run game. Pickett was 19 of 30 for 160 yards, including a 32-yard completion to Johnson on the scoring drive, and had no turnovers. The third-down pass, which traveled a game-high 23 air yards, had just a 35.9 expected completion percentage, according to NextGen Stats. Pickett averaged 4.5 air yards per attempt, the second-lowest of his career, and as a result he was pressured at the second-lowest rate (20%) of his career.
Buy a breakout performance: Broderick Jones The Steelers’ starting right tackle. Jones, who is relentless Chukwuma Okorafor, it was a surprising start to a short week — especially considering he took most of his reps at left tackle in games and in practice. Okorafor is the Steelers’ highest-paid offensive lineman this season with a $13 million cap hit. Jones, though, was a big part of the run game’s success Thursday. He helped pave the way Nazi Harris on the game’s first score, and in the second half he assisted Harris on a 25-yard run — his longest of the season. The run game is also developed Season-best 5.5 yards per carry — well above his 3.6 average.
Disturbing trends: Wide receiver in each of the last three games George Pickens Made an incredible catch — only to call it incomplete because he didn’t get second leg down. The first two had more to do with ball placement on throws, with Thursday’s one costing his team a touchdown. Pickett perfectly placed the ball in the end zone where only Pickens could get it, but Pickens’ second leg hit the sideline before dropping into the end zone. He had room to drag his toes, but Pickens didn’t have the awareness to drop his toes. Instead of taking a four-point lead, the Steelers settled for a field goal and a 13-13 tie in the third quarter. Pickens entered the night with 11 receptions within 2 yards of a touchdown over the past two seasons, the most in the league, according to NFL Next Gen stats. — Brooke Pryor
Coming up next: vs. Green Bay Packers (Nov. 12, 1 p.m. ET)
Tennessee Titans (3-5)
The Titans dropped a heartbreaker for their eighth road loss and fourth loss of the season. The Titans couldn’t contain the Steelers’ run game, led by Harris — who had 15 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown — and Jaylen Warren — 10 carries for 85 yards.
Although it was a loss, Lewis made a case to be the starter for the rest of the season. Despite facing a formidable pass rush, Levis gave the Titans a chance to win but fell just short.
QB Breakdown: Levis delivered to his receivers even as the pass rush descended on him consistently. His elite, effortless arm strength was on display, especially on his best throw — a layered pass Nick Westbrook-Ikhine His back legs closed as the defense closed in on him. It’s clear he’s comfortable and confident running offensive coordinator Tim Kelly’s system, even in a raucous stadium like Acrisar Stadium.
The biggest hole in the game plan: The Titans took over on four downs at their 38-yard line. Wide receiver Traylon Burks Pick up five yards at one end and Derrick HenryIts 1-yard run made it third-and-4. Kelly decided to call an inside run Tyjay Spears, and it went for no gain to set up a fourth down. Although Pittsburgh’s pass rushers were able to harass Levis all game, the ensuing playcall employed a long-developing route and Burks’ deep incompletion.
Promising trends: From Levi’s DeAndre Hopkins The combination paid off for the Titans. Hopkins, who finished with 60 yards on four receptions, played 12 halves without Levis this season. Only one of his had at least 50 receiving yards. In just four halves with Levis, Hopkins has at least 50 receiving yards in three. Hopkins didn’t catch a touchdown in the six games before Levis started, but he now has three.
Bold predictions: Levis will have his first 300-yard passing performance next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa is 28th in the league giving up 256 passing yards per game. Kelly will have more time to dial up the deep passing play because he won’t have Pittsburgh TJ Watt And Alex Highsmith Immediate pressure like Thursday. Lewis has excelled at throwing deep passes (three touchdowns with 50 or more air yards), so expect to see him air it against the Bucs. — Taron Davenport
Coming up next: Next: Tampa Bay at Buccaneers (Nov. 12, 1 p.m. ET)