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Tennessee 7, Steelers 34

steelershelmet.jpgJust as girlfriend* Natalie Gulbis was putting away Maria Hjorth of the European team en route to a 15.5-12.5 United States victory in the Solheim Cup, rookie-no-more Ben Roethlisberger was leading the Steelers to the first of six consecutive scores and 34 unanswered points as the Steelers easily put away the Tennessee Titans in their opener, 34-7.

Roethlisberger, in fact, was perfect in the opener, completing 9 of 11 passes for 218 yards, two TDs, and 0 INTs. His perfect 158.3 passer rating is the first since Trent Green's in 2003. Steve McNair was a bit more ordinary, going 18 of 26 for 219 yards, a TD, and a pick (which was not his fault at all).

Though the Steeler defense looked soft, they stiffened and took four balls away from the Titans. Honorary rookie Willie Parker, starting in place of both Jerome Bettis and Deuce Staley, ran for 161 yards on 22 tries, bashing into the promised land on one occasion before giving up the pigskin to fourth-in-line Verron Haynes (11 for 33 with one TD). Randle El snagged a 63-yarder and the first touchdown of the year was a pass to a tight end. In fact, Steelers tight ends caught two of the nine completions today - their highest catch percentage since, oh, Eric Greene wore the black and gold.

Admittedly, the Steelers (and Willie Parker in particular) benefitted from a Titans defense that couldn't tackle an ailing octogenarian on several plays, but they made scoring look easy. Jeff Reed was two for two on field goals, tying Gary Anderson's 19-straight record, and four of four on extra points.

The Steelers, despite scoring quickly, held the time-of-possession advantage, 30:50 to 29:10, but this game was anything but Steelers football. The use of Willie Parker - a fast, nimble, elusive running back - guaranteed that. Yes, the Steelers ran the ball 41 of 52 plays, passing only those 11 times, but that doesn't alone make it Steeler football. They sacked the Titans three times and eluded any themselves. Throughout most of the game, the Steelers were averaging over ten yards per play. Only the fourth-quarter, Maddox-led "give the ball to Haynes and run out the clock" decision deflated that average.

Needless to say, Roethlisberger has given those predicting a sophomore slump a lot to think about. Though nearly every pass was high in the pre-season, Roethlisberger showed touch, poise, and a strong arm today. His decision-making was quick and he nimbly moved both inside and outside the pocket.

As always, there are a few more thoughts at

2 Responses to "Tennessee 7, Steelers 34"

  1. Perhaps some critics will shut up now about how they expect him to be this big disappointment.

  2. The Steelers played arguably the worst team in the NFL (the Bengals and the Cardinals can breathe a sigh of relief, as can the 49ers) today: the Houston Texans. Every time David Carr looks like he's about to break through,...