Tennessee kicker Stephen Gostkowski is extra correct from some distance distances. He had made all 5 field-goal makes an attempt of no less than 50 yards this season. However he had ignored 5 of 10 from 49 yards or nearer, together with two final week in opposition to Houston and 3 within the Titans’ season opener at Denver. The strive on Sunday, with 19 seconds last, was once from 45 yards, and the outcome was once predictable.
The loss does now not take away the sheen from the Titans’ sturdy get started, nor does it push aside their status inside a tough A.F.C., the place Baltimore, Kansas Town and Buffalo additionally lurk.
Over the approaching weeks and months, that knot of aggressive groups will indisputably untangle, however whether or not Tennessee contends for the convention’s best seed — and the one first-round bye within the playoffs — and now not simply an A.F.C. South name is dependent partly on whether or not its protection can clear up its third-down troubles. The Titans entered the sport because the worst third-down protection within the league, permitting conversions on 57.eight p.c of possibilities, but by some means fared worse Sunday: Pittsburgh was once 13 of 18.
“We’re not starting fast enough on defense,” Titans protection Kevin Byard stated. “It’s kind of like we’re expecting the offense to always dig us out of a hole.”
In that sense, the Steelers are the extra whole group, with pass-rushing ebook ends, a stout secondary and an offense that noticed 10 gamers — together with Diontae Johnson, who stuck 9 passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns — contact the ball. That they gained regardless of a minus-Three turnover margin gave the impression to vex Tomlin, however seven weeks into the season, no different group within the convention had weathered demanding situations — accidents and attrition and adhering to coronavirus protocols and, on Sunday, a powerful comeback from a powerful group — higher than it had.
After it was once over Sunday, after bettering to 6-Zero for the primary time since 1978, the Steelers, who play at Baltimore subsequent week, gained now not a shimmering trophy or commemorative attire or a Gatorade bathtub, however moderately a praise that’s much less tangible. They in short savored the delight that accompanied an accomplishment that may imply some distance, way more in January or February.