Steelers 40, Titans 17: 'It’s not a second half that we’re very proud of on both sides'

mdi construction barPITTSBURGH – They came flying out of the locker room, ran a play they picked out special, got a 75-yard scoring connection from Marcus Mariota to Rishard Matthews and looked to be on their way to a fight to the end.

But from the moment the Titans pulled to within 2-points of the Steelers at Heinz Field, everything went wrong.

The Titans left the 40-17 loss to the Steelers talking of a potential rematch in the playoffs but knowing they’ve got a ton of work ahead to earn one.Image 11 17 17 at 1.40 AM

“Tough game, tough second half for us,” Brian Orakpo said. “We had to make adjustments and just couldn’t make the right ones at the time. It’s one game, we can’t get too down on this one.

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No shame in losing in Pittsburgh, but plenty in the way the Titans did it

mdi construction barPITTSBURGH – The Titans proved unready for prime time, dropping a 40-17 decision at Heinz Field that was an exciting, back-and-forth battle for a while and a disaster in the end.JacksonPIT

It finished off a four-game winning streak.

The Titans are now 6-4 and if the Jaguars win at winless Cleveland on Sunday, Tennessee will be a game out of first place in the AFC South.

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mdi construction barPITTSBURGH – Officials gave the Steelers 10 yards they shouldn’t have late in the first half of the Titans-Steelers game at Heinz Field.

Adoree Jackson punched the ball out from Antonio Brown after a reception and the ball went forward and was covered by another Steelers receiver, Martavis Bryant.

Game stats credited Brown with a 17-yard catch that counted for 17 yards and got the ball to the Titans 32-yard line and after the fumble was recovered the ball was placed at the 32.

But the Steelers should not have been allowed to advance the fumble at that point.

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Titans' run game determined to sustain blocks longer

mdi construction barPITTSBURGH – With a spotlight shining on them, the Titans need to do better dirty work in the trenches Thursday night.

In recent weeks, Mike Mularkey’s been stressing the need for the offensive line, and everyone on offense, to sustain their blocks.

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The Titans have faced some good defensive fronts, and they get another with the Steelers. Their job is obviously to shed blocks.

But among the issues facing a run game that hasn’t been consistent enough has been an inability to stay with a guy long enough to let bigger things unfold.

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Why the Titans don't run more three-wide

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans reluctance to spend much time in formations featuring three wide receivers stems from the formational restrictions of the personnel grouping.

I’d never thought of it this way.

But Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie run a deception offense and don’t want to tell a defense what is coming. In their thinking, the three-wide sets we all think of as opening things up are actually limiting.MarcusThrowCIN

In 1994, Mularkey was the quality control coach in Tampa Bay. He watched more film that season than in any other, and working both side of the ball he saw what made things hard for defenses.

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In Pittsburgh, Titans will see familiar-looking defense

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The defense the Tennessee Titans will see on Thursday night at Heinz Field will look familiar.

Dick LeBeau’s been gone since 2015, but his stamp has lasted even as his replacement as defensive coordinator, Keith Butler, has added his own wrinkles.TitansSwordGlass

“You can sit down and watch them and you know, Keith Butler, I know he was with Dick for a long time, he’s been there for a long time, but a lot of things he’s doing is Dick LeBeau,” Terry Robiskie said.

“…The big thing playing the Pittsburgh Steelers, you can go back to history, you better be focused, the second thing is you better be patient. I can tell you nobody goes in there up and down, up and down, run the ball, throw the ball,

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Two weeks of mistake-free play in the red zone have yielded Titans gigantic results

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans biggest dropoff from 2016 to 2017 was in the red zone.

During last year’s 9-7 campaign, they scored a touchdown on 36 of 50 red-zone trips for a tremendous .720 rate.

Through seven games this season, that had plummeted to seven of 17 for a .412 clip.

A good share of the bye week focus was on third down and red zone, and in wins over Baltimore and Cincinnati, the Titans scored six touchdowns in six chances.MurrayScoreCIN

That included three in three chances against the Bengals, who came into Sunday’s game as the NFL’s No. 1 defense.

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Missed time caught up to Corey Davis in a poor showing against the Bengals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On first glance, it seemed Marcus Mariota let the ball go earlier than he typically would.

Up the right side, Corey Davis hadn’t turned yet. He didn’t turn to look for it until really late, but when he did he was remarkably able to collect it on super-short notice.

“That play, I don’t know if I’ve seen one like that,” Mike Mularkey said. “The anticipation by the quarterback and the receiver to be able to catch that was pretty impressive.”DavisCIN

Said Mariota: “It’s a big-time play. For him to keep his concentration and come down with it was huge.”

That was the highlight of the day for the Titans rookie receiver, playing in just his fourth NFL game, a 24-20 Titans in over the Bengals.

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