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Steelers.com News - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 8:00am
Bryant applying perspective while rediscovering his game.

Steelers Stock Report: See whose stock is rising, and falling, after the team’s Week 11 win

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 7:15am

Time to check the Steelers stock report after the 40-17 drubbing of the Titans.

To say that Skycam™ was divisive and controversial would be an understatement. A cursory review of Twitter indicated that the introduction Skycam was met with either unbridled adulation or unmitigated, vitriolic disdain.

I hated Skycam. I thought Skycam sucked so, so hard. But I understand why Skycam happened.

Last February, the NFL, along with monolithic network giants CBS and NBC, agreed to a massive, multiyear broadcasting contract—one that nets the NFL somewhere in the ballpark of $45 million per game. Within this incredibly lucrative contact lies an interesting Catch-22: players and a lot of fans abhor Thursday night games, but due to the league’s revenue sharing model, that extra coin ultimately confers some mildly-tangible benefits to the players, such as a higher salary cap and, by extension, larger contracts. And this is precisely why Thursday Night Football does not appear to be in any immediate danger. There are a multitude of surface-level concerns plaguing the current product—player safety issues, the over-proliferation of NFL football, and the dissemination of what are often watered-down or otherwise unwatchable matchups, to name a few— but the ratings, which are down from 2016, still are generally very solid.

That’s why Skycam seemed like a desperation play by an organization that recognizes it has some issues, but isn’t self-aware enough to pinpoint the source of those issues. I can almost picture the meeting that must’ve taken place prior to the implementation of Skycam:

NBC executive: “Why are ratings down?”

NFL executive: “Millennials.”

NBC executive: “I figured. Why don’t millennials like the NFL?”

CBS executive: “Is it because the NFL desperately seeks to maintain a strong “stick to sports” mentality at all levels? Is it because the league itself has a terrible relationship with its players? Is it because the NBA has a more visually-appealing product and superior upper manag…”

*taser noises, followed by a heavy thud*

NFL executive: It’s because of video games. What if we switched the camera angle so the game appears as it does in Madden?

NBC executive: Brilliant! I’ll start the paperwork immediately.

I’m being too critical of Skycam. Truthfully, Skycam is a pretty cool novelty that allows us, the fans, to view the game from a new perspective. Antonio Brown’s first touchdown catch? The average fan could’ve spotted it before Ben Roethlisberger even threw the ball.

But the way NBC went about introducing Skycam and subsequently discussing Skycam was anything but charming. It seemed almost as if color commentators Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth were reading from cue cards throughout the telecast.

Cris: Gee, Mike, isn’t Skycam great? It allows us to see what the players see.

Mike: It sure it, Cris! The NFL sure is pioneering new terrain with Skycam. (*more quietly* Please, I did what you asked. Please let my family go.)

Cris (now crying): Gee, that Antonio Brown sure is…*sniffs* sure is a great receiver, Mike.

I guess Skycam’s current stock is preferential. I’m putting it down. Screw Skycam. Let’s check on the game:

The game plan – Stock up, then down, then back up again

On their first drive of the game, the Steelers went up-tempo—much like they did for their second-half run against Indianapolis Colts last week, a run that culminated in 17 unanswered points over about a quarter and a half—and scored a touchdown. They proceeded to slow things down, which led to, like, four consecutive three-and-outs and a pair of trips that stalled in the red-zone. Not good. However, some apparent halftime adjustments enabled the Steelers to orchestrate four scoring drives to seal the game. So, what happened?

If I had to guess, I’d wager that no “major adjustments” took place—the Steelers just had greater success executing their original game plan in the second half.

Very early in Thursday’s game, it became apparent that Pittsburgh’s ground game was never going to be anything more than a decoy. Le’Veon Bell carried the ball only five times in the first half and 12 times overall, and I’d argue that half of those runs weren’t designed plays to begin with, but rather the result of Roethlisberger changing the play at the line. Instead, Pittsburgh decided to borrow a page from New England’s play book and use the short passing game as a surrogate for the rushing attack. As he’s wont to do, Roethlisberger did take his fair share of deep shots, but, more often than not, Option B (Option A is always Antonio Brown, no matter what) was a receiver at or near the line of scrimmage. Rarely did the Steelers deviate from this formula, as exemplified by Roethlisberger’s almost-unbelievable 299 passing yards on 45 attempts (for context, Roethlisberger threw 49 passes the night he threw for 522 yards against the Colts and 46 passes the night he threw for 503 yards against the Packers). And against a team like Tennessee, which routinely sends extra pass rushers and leaves the secondary in man coverage, getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and into the mitts of a receiver and taking a requisite number of deep shots is a formula that works; sometimes it just takes a half or so to fall into place.

The front seven - Stock up

This website is, by definition, a Pittsburgh Steelers website, but that should not distract from the fact that Cameron Heyward should be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s been that dominant so far.

Heyward collected a pair of sacks on Thursday, extending his team lead to seven and positioning himself just outside the top-10 in the NFL in that category. Rarely are 3-4 defensive ends so productive, especially in a defensive system like Pittsburgh’s, in which ends serve as de facto defensive tackles, meant to control the running game and occupy blockers so the linebackers can fly around and get after the quarterback. Heyward decided to cut out the middle man and simply get those sacks himself (and even when Heyward isn’t dragging the opposing quarterback to the ground, he’s coming mighty close).

Heyward’s teammates were just as successful against Tennessee, picking up five sacks and holding the Titans’ 6th-ranked rushing attack to only 52 yards on 21 carries.

The secondary - Stock up

It’s easy to look at Tennessee’s gross passing yardage and ascertain that the Steelers secondary had a rough game. And at times, they did. On the first play after halftime, Marcus Mariota and Rishard Matthews connected on a 75-yard touchdown, which was the third touchdown pass of 60 or more yards the Steelers have allowed in their past two games. The most discouraging aspect of that touchdown was the fact that it didn’t result from blown coverage or some catastrophic mistake in the deep secondary—Mariota and Matthews simply exploited man coverage.

But it must be noted that the Steelers played Thursday’s game without Mike Mitchell and Joe Haden, a duo who might represent the two best players in Pittsburgh’s secondary. In spite of this, the Steelers forced four interceptions, three of which were the direct result of the defensive back making a great play on the ball. Last week, we wrote this:

What we’re saying is that Artie Burns, Coty Sensabaugh, Robert Golden, and Sean Davis are the second coming of the Legion of Boom. Tennessee is averaging a little over 200 passing yards per game and Mariota’s interception numbers are up, so LOB 2.0 could feast in omnivorous fashion.”

The front-seven seemed to do the brunt of the heavy lifting on the five sacks, so we’ll adjust our wording to read that the secondary feasted “carnivorously.”

Impressively, the Steelers did this against a quarterback who is, by most measures, a very solid NFL passer. Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Brett Hundley is decidedly not a very solid NFL passer, so the Steelers could be in for a repeat performance this Sunday.

The game ball - People who watched the entire game

I work in Pittsburgh within reasonable walking distance of Heinz Field, so I checked Ticketmaster on Thursday morning to see about getting tickets on a whim. Not surprisingly, there were maybe 50 pairs of tickets in the 500-something sections listed for $40 or less. (If you ever plan a trip to Pittsburgh for a game, this is actually useful advice: ALWAYS buy your tickets the day before or even the day of the game. You’ll save a ton of money).

Anyway, I ultimately decided against attending the game because a) it was a work night and b) it was super cold. I didn’t miss much because, by the beginning of the fourth quarter, the upper decks were noticeably vacant and wide shots of the stadium exterior revealed lines of ant-like Steelers fans trying to beat traffic (I would have 100 percent been among them).

But those who stayed for the entire game are the truest fans out there, braving the cold weather and hellish Friday work or school days in the name of fandom.

Ben Roethlisberger Retirement Index

It’s a 1 this week. Ben did a bunch of “classic Ben” kind of things on Thursday, which bodes well for Pittsburgh’s outlook moving forward.

The Steelers can be scary good if they just clean up a few things

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 6:13am

The Steelers head into Week 12 with an 8-2 record, but they can still improve in a lot of areas.

While Pittsburgh Steelers fans can rest easy knowing their favorite team is 8-2, they should be excited knowing this team has a lot of improvement which can still take place.

Yes, without a doubt, this team can be better than what they have been.

Winning ugly has become the new norm for the Black-and-gold, but if they were just to straighten out a few things in their game, this team could be nearly unstoppable on both sides of the ball.

Here’s the rough draft of areas of the Steelers’ game which can still improve in the last six games to help make them the Super Bowl contender fans have expected since Day 1.

  • Red-Zone Offense

Pittsburgh has struggled mightily in the red-zone, but often has no problem moving the ball between the 20s. If the Steelers could just improve to slightly above .500 it would help provide a bigger cushion for a defense which hasn’t surrendered more than 20-points in a game since Week 5 vs. the Jaguars.

  • Tackling

Tackling has been poor across the NFL, but the Steelers have had some back-breaking issues on the defensive side of the football. On countless occasions we’ve seen one or two tacklers having a ball carrier ‘dead-to-rights’, only to let him slip away for a big gain. Cleaning this up will go a long way.

  • 3rd-down Offense

Similar to the red-zone issues, if the Steelers can improve their 3rd-down offense, it would help extend drives and allow their defense to remain fresh. In Week 11 vs. the Titans, Pittsburgh had three straight three-and-outs, and it certainly took its toll on the defense. Play-calling comes into the picture in both of these scenarios (3rd down and red-zone), but execution trumps all, in my opinion.

Are there other areas where the Steelers could improve? Without a doubt. But if these three could be rectified during the last six games of the season, it would make the Steelers a very tough team to beat.

Steelers News: Is it play calling or execution which truly ignites the Steelers offense?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 4:32am

The Steelers’ offense stumbled into Week 11, then exploded. What is the true reason for the success or failure of the offense?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

If an NFL offense like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fails to perform, is the play-calling or execution to blame?

Count all of these as very philosophical questions which can be debated and will be debated without any definite answer emerging.

Steelers fans love to bash Todd Haley, but if every offensive play is designed to succeed, at what point do you blame execution? And on the flip side, there are moments in the football game where you can see that the play being called not only doesn’t fit into the scheme, but is setting players up to fail.

The blame game can go on-and-on, but whom do you credit for an offense’s success, or blame for the lack thereof?

Time to check up on the Steelers news outside the walls of BTSC:

There seems to be a lot of chest pounding and self congratulating going on after the Steelers offense scored 40 points Thursday night in a win over Tennessee. The Steelers “silenced their critics” seems to be the story line. They proved everyone wrong; they sure showed everyone who they really are.

Let’s relax. It’s one game. That’s it. It is one game against a very mediocre defense and with the aid of an opposing quarterback who threw four interceptions. That’s not to diminish what the Steelers offense accomplished, it is to ask the very fair question of “What took you guys so long?”

We’ve known the Steelers offense has had this capability. We’ve known they have the best complete set of skill position players in the NFL. We’ve known Ben Roethlisberger has the ability to play at a higher level than just about every quarterback in the NFL not named Tom Brady.

The problem is until Thursday night, it was all just hot air and big talk. The Steelers offense didn’t do anything Thursday night other than underscore just how much they have underachieved to this point in the season.

Ten games in a row now, the Steelers’ defense has held an NFL offense to less than 19 points in regulation.

Crazy, right?

Well, it’s the truth, and it’s only looking more and more rooted in a firm Keith Butler-built foundation, especially after that 40-17 rout of the Titans on Thursday night at Heinz Field.

Start, as always, with the run.

Just like Dick LeBeau‘s defenses, the first priority in a Butler defense is to make the opponent one-dimensional by taking away old reliable. The Steelers did just that when they limited Tennessee to just 52 yards on the ground after they had averaged 117.5 beforehand. And they did so in the trenches. The Titans featured two power backs in starter DeMarco Murray and backup Derrick Henry, but the focus wasn’t on watching how they run the ball but, rather, how and where the Titans’ offensive line would try to open rushing lanes. The Steelers displayed a steady feel for the Titans’ running game and, as a result, sound gap defense.

And don’t look now, but, despite giving up 200-plus yards twice this season, against the Bears and Jaguars, the Steelers now rank eighth in the league in run defense, allowing 97.6 yards per game.

In the aftermath of the Steelers’ 40-17 rout of the Titans on Thursday night, their precocious rookie, JuJu Smith-Schuster, was interviewed by NBC’s postgame crew and asked about working every day with Antonio Brown.

“Man, he’s the G.O.A.T.,” Smith-Schuster said.

Smith-Schuster is still just 20. His knowledge of the history of the NFL and who is the Greatest of All Time might be a bit limited. But he might have a point about Brown, who had 10 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns against Tennessee.

The Titans tried to match up man-to-man against Brown, most of the time with rookie Adoree’ Jackson. That’s a mismatch no matter how you look at it, and I asked Brown if he felt disrespected when he saw that.

But back to Smith-Schuster’s point about Brown being the greatest.

Jerry Rice is the standard for NFL receivers. He played 16 seasons in the league, catching 1,549 passes for 22,895 yards and an astounding 197 touchdowns. Those are astronomical numbers. In terms of catches, yards and touchdowns, he’s the guy against which any receiver will be judged.

Super comparison: 2017 Steelers vs. 2008 Steelers

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 4:38pm

One 40-point game can do wonders for your scoring average. In one fell swoop Thursday night the Steelers went from 20th in the NFL in scoring up to 13th. It was the long-awaited breakout game for the Steelers, and the players said afterward they hoped it would be the start of a new trend.

Week 11 NFL Late Games Open Thread and Discussion

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 2:55pm

The Steelers are sitting at 8-2 after their Thursday night win, so let’s enjoy and discuss the late-start games together.

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t play until Week 12 when they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, a trend fans should get used to as they’re in prime-time more often than not for the rest of the season.

We’ll all be watching the late games, so we might as well keep it going and watch together as the other AFC teams duke it out.

Remember, keep it respectful, stay focused and have some fun!

Let the countdown to the next Steelers’ kickoff begin!

HERE WE GO!

Week 11 NFL Early Day Games Open Thread and Discussion

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 11:45am

The Steelers are sitting at 8-2 after their Thursday night win, so we might as well enjoy the early games together.

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t play until Week 12 when they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, a trend fans should get used to as the Black-and-gold are in prime-time more often than not the rest of the season.

So we’ll all be watching the early games, and we might as well come together to watch the other AFC teams duke it out.

Remember, keep it respectful, stay focused and have some fun!

Let the countdown to the next Steelers’ kickoff begin!

HERE WE GO!

Which non-Patriots game could stand between the Steelers and home field advantage

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:36am

The Steelers are on an extended break after their Thursday night win, which is a good time to analyze the rest of the team’s schedule?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 8-2, and sitting pretty atop the AFC Playoff Picture with 6 games remaining on their schedule. With Week 11 almost complete, it is worth analyzing the remaining games on the docket to see which team not named the New England Patriots might derail the team’s hopes of capturing the home-field advantage which has been the goal from Day 1.

So, time to take a look at the final games of the schedule, and see which teams are standing between the Steelers and the road to Super Bowl 52 going directly through Heinz Field.

Week 12 - vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday Night Football)

When the schedule was released it looked as if this game would be a huge showdown between Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, but after Rodgers broke his collar bone it doesn’t have the same magnitude to it. Could the Packers, clinging to their playoff lives, stand tall and upset Pittsburgh at home? Possibly, but we all know Roethlisberger’s record at Heinz Field in prime time is near perfect.

Week 13 - at Cincinnati Bengals (Monday Night Football)

There is a strong chance the Bengals will be out of contention for the AFC North, and the playoffs, by the time Monday Night Football heads to Cincinnati, and many feel this could be a bad omen for the black-and-gold. Who wants to see Vontaze Burfict running around in a game which means nothing to them, and only derailing the Steelers’ season in his sites. It has happened before, but Roethlisberger’s record in the state of Ohio speaks for itself.

Week 14 - vs. Baltimore Ravens (Sunday Night Football)

If you re-read the first sentence of the previous summary for the Bengals game, the same could be true for the Ravens game. In fact, the Steelers and Ravens, in prime time, could be flexed out into a regular time slot. The Ravens are a team ravished with injury, but the divisional rivals always seem to play the Steelers tough...no matter what.

Week 15 - vs. New England Patriots

This game speaks for itself...

Week 16 - at Houston Texans

The Texans and Steelers will go head-to-head on Christmas Day, and what used to be Roethlisberger vs. DeShaun Watson, and T.J. Watt vs. J.J. Watt how now become a shell of a game brimming with playoff implications. Could this be the Steelers’ final home game of 2017?

Week 17 - vs. Cleveland Browns

The hope is this game means absolutely nothing, like so many Browns games in Week 17 before it, and the Steelers begin their resting phase for the 2017 AFC Playoffs.

...

So, with the final slate of games ahead of Pittsburgh, which game, not the one against the Patriots, scares you the most? Which game do you see as a potential trap waiting for the Steelers, keeping them from home field advantage?

Let us know in the comment section below!

HIGHLIGHTS: Roethlisberger, Week 11

Steelers.com Videos - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:00am
QB Ben Roethlisberger was unstoppable as he tossed four TDs in a win over the Titans.

HIGHLIGHTS: Roethlisberger, Week 11

Steelers.com Videos - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 9:00am
QB Ben Roethlisberger was unstoppable as he tossed four TDs in a win over the Titans.

Steelers Give Back: Highlighting the little-known charity work of Ben Roethlisberger

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:05am

Ben Roethlisberger keeps his cards close to the vest, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t doing a massive amount of good in communities across the nation.

Ben Roethlisberger is a guarded individual. There have been myriad reports which echo this profile, but don’t confuse a lack of public exposure for not caring about the community.

The star quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been in the news a lot throughout his 14-year career, and at times for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was the motorcycle accident, the rape allegations or reports of his downright nasty demeanor to fans who supported him through thick-and-thin.

Nonetheless, with all the negative publicity, Roethlisberger didn’t take the common public relations move of countering the negative news with positive news. Instead, even though Roethlisberger withdrew into his shell, at the same time he started doing something truly great through his Ben Roethlisberger Foundation that few knew about.

In fact, it’s amazing how many people, including Steelers fans, still don’t know about what Roethlisberger does through his foundation for police units across the country.

It all started after a K-9 officer was killed in his hometown of Findlay, OH, and it slowly expanded to Roethlisberger buying a K-9 canine for every city in which the Steelers play, including Pittsburgh, every season.

Check out the video below to learn about Roethlisberger’s actions from the man himself:

AB's one-handed catch ... in Spanish

Steelers.com Videos - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:00am
Watch and listen to the Spanish call of WR Antonio Brown's one-handed helmet touchdown catch vs. the Tennessee Titans.

AB's one-handed catch ... in Spanish

Steelers.com Videos - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:00am
Watch and listen to the Spanish call of WR Antonio Brown's one-handed helmet touchdown catch vs. the Tennessee Titans.

Fan proud to give back to the community

Steelers.com Videos - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 6:00am
See how this Steelers Nation Unite member used his Steelers RV to make a positive impact in the community at every game last season.

Remembering the great Myron Cope, king of the Steelers’ radio booth

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:53am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had many legendary players, but one person who never wore a helmet might have been one of the greatest legends ever associated with the Black-and-gold.

Recently someone asked me who I would put on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mount Rushmore. For some reason, the first name that came to mind was Myron Cope.

I know, I know, how dare I choose Cope over names like Noll, Greene, Lambert, Bettis, Polamalu and on and on.

Easy. Myron Cope was a large part of my life growing up, and I’m likely not alone when I say this. Growing up, the voice of Cope was the voice heard on game day, not the network television announcers. Simply put, Cope was the soundtrack to a era of my life which brings me an immense amount of joy.

Cope was unique to say the least. His raspy voice truly was something special, but only to those Black-and-gold faithful who never missed a broadcast. There’s a large segment of Steelers Nation who weren’t alive to experience what Cope brought to the games, so I found this YouTube video to help introduce Cope to those fans who never listened to him, and as a beautiful reminder to those who remember Cope as I do.

Check out the video below, but also let us know which Cope-ism/play call was your favorite in the comment section below!

Recap of TNF, Saluting to Service and more

Steelers.com News - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:00am
If you missed anything this week, we have you covered with our weekly recap.

Ron Cook: The Steelers are 'thankful' for Mike Hilton

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 5:00am

Senquez Golson made the news Wednesday, signing as a practice-squad player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You are familiar with his sad Steelers story, right? A No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, he never played a down here because of a long list of injuries. The team finally released him in early September.

Steelers News: Will the Steelers lean on the passing game down the home stretch?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 4:32am

The Steelers were a run-heavy team in the first half, but will they be airing it out down the stretch?

During the first half of the 2017 regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers leaned on the running game. Le’Veon Bell has more carries than any other running back in the NFL and, while some are asking if the team will run the wheels off of Bell, maybe it won’t matter.

Why?

Maybe the Steelers will be more of a passing team in the back half of the season. If the Week-11 game against the Tennessee Titans is any indication, the Steelers proved one thing—they’re capable of winning this way.

Realizing one game is a tiny sample size, there’s not enough evidence to prove the team could be leaning this way in the foreseeable future, but it certainly makes you think this might be the true key to keep the offense from falling back into the same funk they were in prior to the second half of the Titans game.

Time to check on the news outside the walls of BTSC:

The Steelers turned their season around last year at about this time when they shifted their offense from a pass-heavy attack to one that leaned heavily on running back Le'Veon Bell.

This season, the raw numbers suggest a turn in the other direction might be prudent.

The Steelers rank 27th in the NFL in yards per rushing attempt (3.6), but they rank sixth in yards per passing attempt (7.0).

Over the course of the current 5-game winning streak, the disparity is even starker. The Steelers are averaging 8.2 yards per passing attempt — a figure that would, by far, lead the league if maintained over the course of the full season.

Over the past four games, however, the Steelers are averaging 3.1 yards per rush. Maintaining that pace would rank them 31st out of 32 teams in that category for the full season.

The Steelers have 26 rushes of 10 yards or more this season, but they have 27 carries that went for negative yardage. Only three teams have fewer carries of at least 20 yards (the Steelers have three).

Injuries that sidelined two starting defensive backs for a game against a division leader might have crippled many NFL teams. That's especially true for one that has spent much of its financial resources on offense.

The Steelers, though, overcame some hiccups by their substitutes in the secondary to limit the Tennessee Titans to only two touchdowns in a 40-17 victory Thursday night that kept them atop the AFC playoff race.

With Joe Haden out with a fractured fibula and Mike Mitchell missing with an ankle injury, the Steelers weren't forced to plug in rookies or untested backups against the first-place Titans. Instead, they turned to two former NFL starters, a sign of the depth in their secondary that’s uncommon in the salary-cap era.

And the backups made significant contributions in the Steelers' fifth consecutive win, which came as no surprise to linebacker Ryan Shazier, the defensive play-caller.

“When they come in,” he said, “we expect them to make plays.”

Coty Sensabaugh, who started for three teams before joining the Steelers in March, replaced Haden and had an interception that led to a first-half field goal and a 13-7 lead. Robert Golden, who lost his starting job to strong safety Sean Davis last season, replaced Mitchell at free safety, finishing the game with five tackles plus an interception that led to the final field goal in the 23-point margin of victory.

“We know who is coming in and what they can do,” Shazier said. “We just played our defense. It doesn't matter if starters are in or the last man on the depth chart. We have everybody ready for the game. They are in the same meetings everyone is in, so it's not like they are getting shorter knowledge.”

Some day, the Steelers could talk about playing the Tennessee Titans on a Thursday night as the breakthrough game of a Super season.

That storyline inevitably will turn toward Ben Roethlisberger's halftime challenge of an underachieving offense that had struggled to convert on third downs, in the red zone or put 30 points on the scoreboard.

To take nothing away from the narrative of Big Ben's outspoken show of leadership in the locker room, it wasn't so much about what he said as what followed.

The Steelers flipped that script, turning their failures into fortune in a runaway 40-17 victory over the Titans at Heinz Field.

It was all so sudden and unexpected, especially against a Titans defense led by legendary zone-blitz guru Dick LeBeau.

“I think you can call this a breakout game in terms of points, but I still think that we're going to look at this and say, ‘Man, we left a lot out there,' ” said Roethlisberger, who completed 20 of 23 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

“I'm going to give them credit. That's a Coach LeBeau defense. They stopped us a lot on third downs and stopped us in the red zone. Was it our best game? No. Was it better? Yeah.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Bell, Week 11

Steelers.com Videos - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 2:00pm
RB Le'Veon Bell made a big impact eclipsing 100 total yards and helping the Steelers defeat the Titans in Week 11.

HIGHLIGHTS: Steelers Defense, Week 11

Steelers.com Videos - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 12:00pm
The Steelers defense dominated the Titans, racking up five sacks and four interceptions in the victory.

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