Offense comes alive

PITTSBURGH – The told-you-so smirks were everywhere in the locker room. At least the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't stick out their tongues and say "na, na, na, na, na" after clicking on all offensive cylinders in a 34-7 win over the Tennessee Titans.

The offensive highlight reel was a long one:

Willie Parker set a team record with 161 rushing yards in an opener. He left the game with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Ben Roethlisberger had a perfect passer rating of 158.3, the first in the NFL since Trent Green in 2003.

• Antwaan Randle El caught a 63-yard touchdown pass, the longest Steelers pass play ever at Heinz Field.

• First-round draft pick Heath Miller, one of two starting tight ends Sunday, caught a 3-yard pass for the Steelers' first touchdown.

• The line did not allow a sack.

• No turnovers and only one penalty.

So after a preseason in which the first-team produced only three points in 18 series, everything came together at the right time.

Seemingly to a man, the Steelers told everyone that everything would be OK, and they were right. But how did they know?

"We don't show a whole lot in the preseason; very, very vanilla," said Randle El. "That's what people don't understand. When we say game-planning, we mean not only game-planning but sending our packages in that we normally would run in the regular season and that we certainly don't run in the preseason."

Was there any relief after scoring on the opening drive?

"Maybe to a bunch of fans, people who don't believe in us," he said.

Randle El promised fans just last week they would see the deep passing that had been absent in preseason. So with a 10-7 lead, Roethlisberger took the snap at the Tennessee 22, faked a hand-off and flung the ball down the field for Randle El. He ran past Tony Beckham, caught the ball and put a move on Tank Williams that made the safety fall down. Randle El ran 20 yards to complete the 63-yard score.

While Randle El gave the Steelers a deep threat, Parker gave them their legs. His first bolt came on the first possession, a second-and-14 play. Parker took a screen pass from Roethlisberger with Alan Faneca, Marvel Smith and Kendall Simmons in front of him. Parker scooted 48 yards to set up Miller's touchdown catch.

Parker had runs of 25 and 15 yards during the last possession of the first half; a 14-yard run to open the second half; and a 45-yard run around right end on the Steelers' second possession of the second half. The 45-yard run was Parker's last carry of the game. His 161 yards on 22 carries (7.3 avg.) is the 12th highest in team history and represented the bulk of the Steelers' 206 rushing yards Sunday.

"I guess a lot of y'all guys got your questions answered, asking me, can I last the whole game?" Parker said to reporters. "I mean, I should ask y'all the question now."

Coach Bill Cowher was asked if Parker would remain the starter. "I see no reason to make a change at this point," Cowher said.

Roethlisberger was the third potent factor in the Steelers' offense. After posting a preseason rating of 32.8, Roethlisberger pitched a perfect game. He completed 9 of 11 for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

After looking so bad in the preseason, Roethlisberger, and the rest of the offense, were perfect in the opener. There had to be more to it than game-planning.

"Some of that is maybe the game plan, and how the focus of it narrows down, and some of it is guys playing the whole game," said offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. "I think that we had a productive camp as far as what we were trying to accomplish offensively, and we had a good day today, but it's only the first day."

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