By Jim Wexell, The Sports Xchange – UPI
PITTSBURGH — Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau schemes to make opposing offenses “one-dimensional.”
It was his mantra through 16 seasons as a Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coach.
So the Steelers did him a favor upon his return to Heinz Field. They made themselves one-dimensional from the start and it paid off in a 40-17 win over the Titans on Thursday night.
After rallying the Steelers to a win only four days earlier, Ben Roethlisberger came out throwing against the Titans and finished with four touchdown passes and 299 yards through the air. He completed 30 of 45 passes as the Steelers compiled a near 3-to-1 pass-run ratio.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns. He entered the weekend leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yardage, and Thursday night went past 1,000 yards for the fifth consecutive season.
The NFL’s leading rusher? Le’Veon Bell finished with 46 yards on 12 carries, and it was by design.
Bell carried only eight times for 30 yards through three quarters, or until the Steelers put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a spectacular one-handed, ball-pressed-to-helmet 10-yard touchdown catch by Brown that gave the Steelers a 37-17 lead.
The Steelers opened the game in a no-huddle attack and needed only six plays to score on a 41-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Brown.
The Steelers’ Mike Hilton intercepted Marcus Mariota at midfield to end the Titans’ first possession. Hilton returned the ball 26 yards to set up Chris Boswell‘s 41-yard field goal and give the Steelers an early 10-0 lead.
The Titans answered with an 11-play, 68-yard drive that ended with Mariota running 7 yards on a third-down play. The touchdown cut the Steelers’ lead to 10-7 with 3:05 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers cooled significantly, but they were able to add to their lead after an interception by Cody Sensabaugh.
The replacement for injured cornerback Joe Haden returned the ball to the Tennessee 20 and Boswell kicked a 28-yard field goal for a 13-7 Steelers lead with 1:37 left in the half.
Boswell kicked his third field goal of the half, a 50-yarder, with 18 seconds remaining to send the Steelers to their locker room with a 16-7 lead.
Mariota and Rishard Matthews hooked up on a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second half to cut the Steelers’ lead to 16-14, but the Steelers answered with another pass-heavy drive that ended with Roethlisberger throwing a 5-yard fastball to Brown to re-stake the Steelers to a 23-14 lead.
Tennessee answered with a 44-yard field goal to cut the lead to 23-17 with 5:34 left in the third. However, the Steelers wouldn’t let the Titans hang around. Roethlisberger threw his third touchdown pass, a 1-yarder to tight end Jesse James, to put the Steelers back on top 30-17 with 14:56 remaining.
Brown now has 70 receptions for 1,026 yards.
The win gives the Steelers an 8-2 record, their best start since their 15-1 2004 season.
NOTES: Titans S Kevin Byard injured a shoulder but returned to the game. … Steelers DL Cam Heyward, who had two sacks to take over the Steelers’ sack lead with seven, left early in the fourth quarter after being shaken up on a play.