Take a quick glance at the tale of the tape for Thursday night’s showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall had a strong performance in his first game since tearing his ACL on New Year’s Day. The Illinois product rushed for 81 yards and a TD last Sunday against the Eagles. He also caught two passes for 20 yards and was called “a savior” to the offense by QB Ben Roethlisberger after the game. Big Ben passed for 207 yards without a TD Sunday, but recorded his 25th-career fourth-quarter comeback.
Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck will make his second straight start for Tennessee Thursday in place of injured first-string signal-caller Jake Locker (shoulder). Second-string RB Javon Ringer is expected to miss four to six weeks with a strained left MCL suffered in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Vikings. That means Chris Johnson will see a heavy workload against the Steelers. He rushed 15 times for just 24 yards last week.
Pittsburgh will be without S Troy Polamalu, who aggravated his strained right calf in the first quarter of the victory over the Eagles. The All-Pro originally sustained the injury in the season opener and missed the team's next two games. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley is considered doubtful with a strained right hamstring. Pittsburgh ranks fifth in the NFL with 280.0 yards allowed per contest, but it's given up 65 total points in road defeats to Denver and Oakland.
The Tennessee Titans have been blown out in four of their five games this year and have allowed a league-worst 181 points. The Titans rank in the bottom quarter of the NFL in points allowed, total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed and sacks allowed.
Steelers K Shaun Suisham booted a 34-yard field goal as time expired Sunday, helping Pittsburgh avoid its first 1-3 start under coach Mike Tomlin. His three field goals (20, 34 and 34 yards) were his most in a contest since the Steelers beat New England in October 2011. Suisham is perfect on the season, hitting all eight of his field-goal attempts.
Titans kick returner Darius Reynaud was named the AFC Special Teams Player for the month of September for a reason. Reynaud is the first Titans player to win an AFC Player of the Month Award for special teams and is averaging 27.6 yards per kick return. The West Virginia product brought a kick back 105 yards for a TD against the Lions on Sept. 23.
Word on the street
We've also got a desire to increase our chances of winning, and when you're picking up 30 yards of penalties in one drive that's going to give people an opportunity to score. So, obviously, we're trying to rectify those things. We're less concerned with judgments and interpretations and more concerned about playing in a manner that the flags stay in the pocket.''-- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on his team’s recent lack of discipline.
"That’s just part of the makeup of them (Steelers). They’re a 3-4 team, so they’re going to bring at least four, which most teams do on a 4-3. But you can get four or five guys every snap. I think the thing they do, people perceive it as they’re blitzing all the time, a lot of times they’re bringing five, six. They’re not always bringing as much as people think, it just appears that way. Their thing is more that they try to confuse you with who is coming, try to get mismatches by how they do it. You have to block them. That’s pretty much the No. 1 thing, is blocking and giving your quarterback a chance to make plays down the field." --Titans coach Mike Munchak on the Steelers pass rush.