- The Steelers came into Thursday night's game on a four-game winning streak, but finally unleashed its offense at full firepower for the first time all season.
Three thoughts from the Steelers' explosive 40-17 victory over the Titans on Thursday Night.
1. Despite coming into this game against the Titans at 7-2, Pittsburgh had the look of a lumbering giant on its last legs. Rarely did a game plan accentuate all of its firepower at once. The Steelers had not scored more than 29 points on the season and scored 20 or fewer points in more than half of their games. Enter a four-touchdown performance from Ben Roethlisberger and a night from Antonio Brown that deserves to stand alone as one of his most spectacular performances.
So often, when we raise the bar of expectations for a transcendent player, we overlook what he might do during some ho-hum win over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. But his 70th catch of the season— which served as the dagger against a directionless Titans team—was something only one other player in the league could be able to do on a consistent basis. Lining up on the 10-yard line, Brown ran an inside fade route that came down outside his right shoulder. Brown then spun inward and, with his left hand, pinned the ball against his helmet before securing it on the way to the ground. On the night, Brown caught 10 balls for 144 yards and three touchdowns. He was simply un-guardable. The lopsided score did provide one advantage as the East Coast approached midnight: Plenty of time for those still awake and watching to debate how close Brown is to the best receivers of all time already, and plenty of hope that the AFC is no longer a one-team race.
2. Consider me a fan of Sky Cam. NBC Sports’s suspended camera, which operates much like the default view in Madden video games, was utilized heavily on Thursday Night—a fine gimmick to help offset some of the NFL overload fans are currently experiencing. Strangely enough, the more engrained the current gamer generation becomes with the actual on-field product, the less jarring it will become to see a play develop from over a quarterback’s shoulders. The advantage was obvious: There were several plays from Thursday night—Marcus Mariota’s 75-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews comes to mind immediately—that were simply beautiful from that angle. There’s nothing like seeing the chess match develop between a quarterback and a deep safety in real time. The drawback? Certain formations don’t lend itself well to Sky Cam. If the viewer cannot see all 11 players on offense, there’s an obvious issue.
3. It was a brutal night for Marcus Mariota, who has not looked right all season. His first career three- and four-interception game came on a night that could not end soon enough. The only respite? A 10-day break before a favorable wave in the Titans’ schedule (Colts, Texans, 49ers and Cardinals) before season-ending contests against the Rams and Jaguars. It’s unreasonable to expect nagging ankle and shoulder issues to clear up in the span of 10 days, but if the Titans are smart, he’ll be on ice for the foreseeable future.