Bironas lifts Titans to win over Steelers, 26-23

Ah, that headline feels good to write. The Titans got a few breaks, made some of their own, and at the end of the day Rob Bironas hit a field goal from 40 yards out to upset the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-23, at home.

Like the Lions win and unlike the four losses coming in, the game was competitive throughout. Mike Wallace beat Jason McCourty plus Michael Griffin's help for an 82-yard TD after three field goals, two by the Titans. The defense held after that, though, and a blocked punt by Tim Shaw at the end of the first quarter gave the Titans the ball at the 1. Jamie Harper punched in a score two plays later, and the Titans added another field goal before halftime to go in with a 16-10 lead.

It looked like the Titans might fall prey to their old second half defensive woes, as the Steelers took a 23-16 lead with scores on their first three second half possessions. The Titans tied the game, though, thanks in part to a big third down conversion where flexing Darius Reynaud out wide left the defense confused and Kendall Wright picked up 35 yards down to the 15. Kenny Britt finished off the drive with a TD grab, albeit a play later than he should have. The Steelers made it to field goal range, but Ben Roethlisberger missed Heath Miller on third down and they settled for a career long 54-yard field goal, a field goal that went just short. With good field position, the Titans didn't need many yards, and Jared Cook provided the ones they did, outrunning James Harrison for a 25-yard gain to set up the game-winner and a pleasant surprise.

With a big win like this one, there are a lot of positives. Special teams stood out again, as Darius Reynaud had some risky returns but didn't get burned. Rob Bironas was a perfect 4-for-4. The blocked punt was more a screwup than a function of great design, but it was a game-changing type play. Matt Hasselbeck threw a pick, but looked a lot like the fairly functional Matt Hasselbeck we saw last year. Kenny Britt had a rough night at times but ended up with 62 yards and a TD. Kendall Wright had the big grab and six more. Chris Johnson didn't look great, but generally got the yards that were blocked and a hair more. Jason McCourty did a good job of recovering from the early Wallace score and did a great job to pick off a ball in the red zone late in the first half. The defense did a great job of getting off the field on third downs, especially in the first half, and didn't give the Steelers any freebies when Roethlisberger missed a couple throws in third downs. There were a couple negatives, too, but I won't dwell on those tonight. Instead, the Titans finish the brutal first six games at 2-4 and go into a long weekend on a positive tonight. For tonight, that's all I need.

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