Steelers defeat Titans for fifth straight victory

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By WILL GRAVES

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — With another uninspiring half in the books in a season littered with them for a team that expects to play deep into January and beyond, Ben Roethlisberger had seen enough.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback decided it was time to speak up. The defense had kept the Tennessee Titans in check, yet a game that had the makings of a blowout didn’t feel like one mostly because the offense kept squandering chances.

No more.

“He didn’t call anyone out, he called all of us out,” said Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro. “Linemen. Receivers. Himself. Running backs. Purely positive. It was a challenge. He challenged us. The guys responded.”

None better than the 35-year-old Roethlisberger. Running the no-huddle offense nearly to perfection, Roethlisberger finished with 299 passing yards and four touchdown throws — three of them to Antonio Brown — as the Steelers pulled away for a 40-17 victory.

“I don’t care if you’re old or young, just someone has to step up and make a play for this team or else we are going to keep relying on our defense,” said Roethlisberger, who went 20-of-23 for 185 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. “It is time that we step up and do something.”

Brown caught 10 passes for 144 yards as the Steelers (8-2) set season highs for points and margin of victory and won a fifth straight game.

“We’ve talked so much about having the potential in this room, but we can still strive for more,” said defensive end Cam Heyward, who had two of Pittsburgh’s five sacks. “We’re a hungry group that still has a lot to prove. We’re chasing ghosts. We’re trying to be the best defense.”

Though the Titans’ Marcus Mariota ran for a touchdown and threw for another, the quarterback from Honolulu was also picked off a career-high four times as the Titans (6-4) had their four-game winning streak come to a crashing halt.

“When you play teams that are this caliber that are contenders, that win week in and week out, that’s the blueprint,” Mariota said. “We’re going to learn from it. We’re going to get better from it and hopefully we’ll see them again.”

Mariota finished 22-of-33 for 306 yards. His touchdown pass was a 75-yarder to Rishard Matthews on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, which got Tennessee within 16-14.

NFL on TV

Sunday

8 a.m.–L.A. Rams at Minnesota, FOX

8 a.m.–Kansas City at N.Y. Giants, CBS

11:25 a.m.–New England vs. Oakland at Mexico City, CBS

3:30 p.m.–Philadelphia at Dallas, NBC

Monday

3:30 p.m.–Atlanta at Seattle, ESPN

Thursday

7:30 a.m.–Minnesota at Detroit, FOX

11:30 a.m.–L.A. Chargers at Dallas, CBS

3:30 p.m.–N.Y. Giants at Washington, NBC