Steelers rally, defeat Titans in OT

Doing what he did six times in 2008, Ben Roethlisberger played Superman once again with some late-game heroics, as the Pittsburgh Steelers downed the Tennessee Titans, 13-10, here at Heinz Field to open the 2009 season.

Roethlisberger completed 33-of-43 passes for 363 yards, including 63 yards on the opening possession of overtime to set up Jeff Reed's 33-yard game-winning field goal.

The victory, however, was costly as the Steelers lost safety Troy Polamalu to a sprained knee in the second quarter. The severity of the injury was unknown at press time. He was replaced by Tyrone Carter.

"It is an MCL sprain," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin of the injury to Polamalu. "They are reading the scans and so forth. Those things have a range of three-to-six weeks. It is speculation at this point."

What is not up for speculation is the mettle Roethlisberger shows with the game on the line.

With 11:03 remaining in the game, Tennessee took a 10-7 lead on a 45-yard field goal by Rod Bironas, who had missed two earlier attempts.

The Steelers went into a no-huddle offense and Roethlisberger was nearly perfect, taking the Steelers to the Tennessee nine. But Mewelde Moore was stopped twice on short-yardage carries and Pittsburgh was forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Reed to tie the score at 10-10 with 2:57 remaining.

After picking up one first down, the Steelers pressured Tennessee quarter Kerry Collins, who threw for 244 yards and a touchdown, into three straight incompletions to get the ball back.

A 28-yard Craig Hentrich punt gave Pittsburgh the ball at its own 42 with just under two minutes remaining and the Steelers looked as if they were going to win the game in regulation as Ben Roethlisberger hit a wide open Hines Ward over the middle. Ward ran to the Tennessee four but safety Michael Griffin stripped Ward of the ball from behind and Tennessee recovered with 51 seconds remaining and ran out the clock.

"All I had to do was fall down and we go out and kick a field goal to win the game, but I though I had a chance to score," said Ward, who finished with eight receptions for 103 yards. "I didn't see (Griffin) coming from behind me. It was a good play on his part."

Pittsburgh won the toss and Roethllisberger, without any semblence of a running game, led the Steelers on the game-winning drive, hitting five-of-eight passes during the drive.

"What was he, like 33 for 43?" asked wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who caught nine passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, the same exact numbers he finished with in the Steelers' Super Bowl victory in February.

"When he's able to scramble, those defensive linemen get tired. And he's able to call the plays that he wants to run."

While the passing game flourished, the running game struggled mightily. Pittsburgh finished with 36 yards on the ground on 23 carries.

The Steelers also started slowly, failing to take advantage of good field position in the first quarter. The Steelers managed just one yard of total offense in the first quarter, thanks mostly to a pair of sacks.

The first was a costly one, as Roethlisberger attempted to do his usual scramble out of trouble on third down from the Tennessee 22 in the first quarter.

As Roethlisberger twisted and turned, running out of the grasp out of a would-be tackler, he kept moving backward and wound up taking a 19-yard loss at the hands of Jason Jones.

But while the Steelers were stuck in reverse, the Titans were moving the ball with no results as well.

The Titans drove to the Pittsburgh 22 following the sack of Roethlisberger, but a poor snap on a 37-yard field goal attempt caused Bironas to push the ball to the right.

On Tennessee's next possession, the Titans drove to the Pittsburgh 44, but Polamalu made a leaping, one-handed interception of a pass intended for rookie receiver Kenny Britt at the 5-yard line and returned it to the 20 to thwart the Titans once again.

Roethlisberger was intercepted by safety Vincent Fuller at the Pittsburgh 44, but the Titans again were unable to take advantage as Collins was sacked by James Farrior for a 10-yard loss on third down from the 34 to take Tennessee out of field goal range.

Bironas then had a 31-yard field goal blocked by defensive end Aaron Smith with 2:22 remaining in the first half. Polamalu was injured on the ensuing scramble for the ball when a mass of players fell on his left knee.

Roethlisberger finally heated up on Pittsburgh's next possession, quickly moving the Steelers down the field in the no-huddle and throwing a 34-yard TD pass to Holmes to put the Steelers ahead 7-0 with 1:22 left in the second quarter.

It turned out the score came too quickly, however, as Collins tied the score just 34 seconds later, moving the Titans 71 yards in three plays – including a 57-yard catch-and-run by rookie Kenny Britt when the Steelers got caught with just 10 defenders on the field – finishing the drive off with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Justin Gage.

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