By STEVE MEGARGEE
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —
Even on a night when Ben Roethlisberger became Pittsburgh’s career passing leader, he couldn’t solve the Steelers’ road woes.
Rob Bironas’ 40-yard field goal as time expired Thursday gave the Tennessee Titans a 26-23 victory over the Steelers, who have lost their first three road games this season. The Steelers (2-3) have dropped five of their last six road contests in a stretch that dates to last season.
“We’re not doing enough things to finish games in hostile environments,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “That’s just the reality right now. Hopefully, it’s just right now. We didn’t do the job tonight. We defeated ourselves in some areas. We’ll go back to work. Needless to say, it’s disappointing.”
Roethlisberger went 24 of 40 for 363 yards with a touchdown and an interception to give him a franchise-record 28,066 yards passing. Terry Bradshaw had 27,989 from 1970-83.
Roethlisberger also put Shaun Suisham in position to deliver a winning kick for the second straight week. Only this time, Suisham’s job was much tougher.
Suisham had made a 34-yard field goal as time expired Sunday in the Steelers’ 16-14 victory over Philadelphia that gave Roethlisberger his 25th career fourth-quarter comeback. The score was tied at 23 with 49 seconds remaining Thursday when Suisham was short on a 54-yard field-goal attempt. His miss allowed the Titans to start their winning drive at their own 45.
Tomlin said he debated whether to go for the field goal in that situation. Suisham had made his three previous attempts, including a 52-yarder.
“He banged the other one before that pretty clean, so I decided to give him a shot at it,” Tomlin said. “I take the responsibility for the miss.”
The Steelers had scored 13 straight points to take a 23-16 lead before Matt Hasselbeck threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt with 4:19 left to tie it at 23.
Tennessee (2-4) held its first opponent below 30 points this season. The Titans had given up more points than any other team in the NFL.
“It’s only one win, we know that,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “But it’s a great win for us at this point in the season when we needed a win to show people what we’re all about.”
Chris Johnson ran for 91 yards on 19 carries, and Hasselbeck finished with 290 yards passing.
“It feels good to win against a good opponent,” said Hasselbeck, who started his second straight game in place of injured Jake Locker. “It feels good to win a close game.”
The Steelers were up 20-16 when Lawrence Timmons picked off Hasselbeck’s pass, but they had to settle for Suisham’s third field goal after moving the ball only 14 yards. That field goal put Pittsburgh up 23-16, and the NFL’s fifth-ranked defense couldn’t make that stand up.
“We’re not scoring enough points, and we’re not making the play when we need to,” Roethlisberger said.
See where the Steelers rank
After the Titans tied the game, Tomlin tried to ice Bironas with a timeout before the game-winning field goal. Bironas waited it out, and then kicked the ball through to give the Titans a rare chance to celebrate this season.
“It’s kind of like Kevin Costner in ‘For The Love of the Game,’ where he clears the mechanism,” Bironas said. “You go out there, and you’re in the zone.”
The Steelers, who played without safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker LaMarr Woodley, head home with a much longer injury report.
Steelers running back Ike Redman caught four passes for 105 yards for the Steelers before injuring his right ankle in the third quarter and never returned. Running back Rashard Mendenhall also went down with an Achilles injury.
Center Maurkice Pouncey injured his right leg on the Steelers’ first play from scrimmage and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert hurt his right ankle in the second quarter. Doug Legursky stepped in for Pouncey, while rookie Mike Adams replaced Gilbert. A Steelers drive stalled when Derrick Morgan got around Adams and sacked Roethlisberger.
Tennessee capitalized on a blocked punt to take the lead early in the second quarter.
On the final play of the first quarter, Tim Shaw broke through the middle of the line and blocked Drew Butler’s punt. Jason McCourty recovered at the 1 to give the Titans first-and-goal. That set up a 1-yard burst from Jamie Harper that gave the Titans a 13-10 lead. Bironas added a 47-yard field goal in the final play of the second quarter to give the Titans a 16-10 halftime advantage.
Harper’s touchdown left St. Louis as the only team without a rushing touchdown this year.
The Steelers continued their road struggles even in a venue where they should have felt right at home. Roughly half the fans at LP Field were waving Terrible Towels while dressed in Steeler black-and-gold. They even had a fan run onto the field after the third quarter, waving a towel before being tackled.
Notes: Titans cornerback Jason McCourty had an interception, the fifth of his career and first this season. ... Tomlin is 3-2 against the Titans, and 15-6 in October. ... Tennessee has won two of its last three home games against Pittsburgh. ... Titans cornerback Tommie Campbell, a Pittsburgh-area native, hurt his ankle on punt coverage and did not return.
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