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Steelers defense keys much-needed win against Tennessee

Sportsnaut
Dec 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Tennessee Titans running back Jeremy McNichols (28) runs the ball against Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush (55) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Jeremy McNichols (28) runs the ball against Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush (55) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Boswell kicked four field goals and the Pittsburgh Steelers forced four turnovers Sunday in a much-needed 19-13 home win over the Tennessee Titans.

Pittsburgh (7-6-1) won for just the second time in its last six games despite getting outgained 317-168 and holding the ball for less than 21 minutes. Given the heavy traffic in the AFC playoff picture, the Steelers likely saved their season by outscoring the Titans 16-0 after halftime.

Meanwhile, Tennessee (9-5) could have moved into the top spot in the AFC standings (and clinched the AFC South title) with a victory. Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) now sit alone atop the conference.

With the game tied at 13-13 midway through the fourth quarter, Ryan Tannehill’s pass was tipped at the line by Taco Charlton and intercepted by Joe Schobert. Four plays later, Boswell’s 46-yard field goal gave Pittsburgh its first lead of the game.

On the next possession, Tennessee’s third fumble of the game — this one by Tannehill — set up Pittsburgh at the Titans’ 35. The Steelers’ offense again couldn’t do much, and Boswell kicked a 48-yard field goal to make it 19-13.

On fourth-and-6 in the final minute, Tannehill threw a pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, who was tackled just shy of the first-down marker by Joe Haden, essentially sealing the outcome.

Tannehill finished 23 of 32 for 153 yards with an interception, while Ben Roethlisberger went 16 of 25 for 148 yards for Pittsburgh. Both veteran quarterbacks rushed for a score.

Before the game, Tennessee players gathered on the Steelers’ logo, with some Titans jumping up and down on it. Pittsburgh certainly did not seem riled up by the incident, as the Titans jumped out to a 10-0 lead after one quarter.

The key play in the opening period was Chester Rogers’ 55-yard punt return that set up Tannehill’s 1-yard sneak into the end zone.

The Steelers finally got on the board when Anthony Firkser’s fumble set them up in Titans’ territory, and Boswell converted a 36-yarder to make it 10-3 with 10:35 to play before halftime.

Roethlisberger’s 1-yard QB sneak made it 13-10 with 3:08 left in the third quarter and then after a fumble by Titans receiver Racey McMath, Boswell converted from 28 yards out to forge a tie at 13-13.

Both teams lost a key offensive player to injury. Titans wideout Julio Jones aggravated a hamstring injury and was ruled out early in the second half. Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth suffered a head injury during the third quarter and did not return.

–Field Level Media