Stillers Blow Golden Opportunity vs. Titans
A hard fought struggle defensively and a despicable day offensively added up to a defeat for the Pittsburgh Stillers against the Titans. The loss ended the Stillers' win streak at 5 and extended the Titans' streak to 8 in-a-row.
Both teams struggled offensively and seemed to have a great knack for self-destruction. Early in the second quarter, Tennessee's McNair had his team poised for a TD starting at the Pit 18 yard line when he threw a pick to Joey Porter at the 4. In Tennessee's next possession, they had a false start, followed by an illegal pick and then an illegal touch by Carla Pickens - this drive started at the Pit 39 yard line and finished at the 46 for minus 6 yards. In their next and final possession of the first half, the Titans drove from their 30 yard line to the Stillers 3 only to be held to a FG. The Titans wasted no time picking up where they left off with their first possession of the second half. They actually moved the ball 69 yards to the Pittsburgh 6 yard line, but Al Del Chumpo miss a 23 yard chip shot!
Pittsburgh was likewise awful offensively. Without giving any details the day can be summed up in Kordell Stewart's woeful numbers - 7 of 22 for 112 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Kordell could easily have had 4 or 5 INT's on the afternoon - one was called back because he was ruled in the grasp and at least two others were blatantly dropped by Titan defenders. For much of the afternoon, Stillers QB and receivers were on different planets. More than a few times Kordell misfired by miles as he threw outs to receivers running ins and vice versa.
Last week, I heard a stat that teams that attempted more runs (not amassed more ground yardage) were 14-0. This shows that ball control offenses may actually be back in fashion, but not for the Black 'n Gold. Today's offense accumulated a whopping 20 carries. The Bus you ask? 13 carries for for 42 yards. Kordell and Huntley contributed 6 and 1 respectively for 32 total yards. Compare this to Eddie George who contributed 34 carries for 98 yards - he finished the game with only a 2.9 yards/carry average and managed only 1.9 yards/carry in the first half. BUT, he still contributed 98 yards to the offense and his 34 carries kept the Stillers defense on the field for 39:20, almost two-thirds of the game, and that is just too long. The Titans had almost as many rushing attempts as Pittsburgh had offensive plays (Titans rushing attempts-40, Stillers total plays-42)....that is a direct result of a horrible Pittsburgh offense and is just utter disrespect to their defense that has kept the team in games all year long.
By game's end, The defense may just have been worn when they had the opportunity, being up 7-6, to put the Titans away by stopping them on 4th and 8. The Stillers D, playing a soft zone coverage, gave up a deep crossing pattern for the first down and the game was basically sealed. A few line plunges and a Del Chumpo FG with 4 seconds left put the stake through the Stillers hearts.
More than I am pissed at the defense for allowing the 4th and 8, I'm pissed at the offense for their final, so-called attempt at moving the ball. With a little over 4:30 left in the game and the ball on their 26 yard line, the offense took the field with a 7-6 lead and a chance to chew the clock. Less than one minute later though, they were punting after Kordell threw the ball away on third down. Threw the ball away??? What in the #$~@ was that??? Take the sack, try to get back to the line scrimmage, scrambled, duck, dodge, weave....something....anything....just keep the clock moving! He didn't even attempt to hit a receiver, he just launched the ball casually out of bounds.
The game was surely not lost on that play alone, but it still bugs me. When time needed to be conserved earlier this year (e.g. against the Browns and Titans), it wasn't done. When time needed to be chewed today, it wasn't done. What will it take? Probably more than PUNT, INT, PUNT, PUNT, END-OF-HALF, PUNT, PUNT, TD, PUNT.
The Stillers defense has now gone 20 quarters without surrendering a touchdown...the Titans, as a franchise, are still undefeated at home...Der Dawson left the game with a hamstring injury...TE Corey Geason also left the game with a sprained knee after catching a first down pass at mid-field...Kordell finished the day with a woeful QB rating of 46 - impressive since you get a rating of 35 just for buckling your chin strap!!