Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines: A Quick Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers

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NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field.

Here's a quick look at the Steelers:

Record: 6-6-1.

Points for/against: 20.9/24.8.

NFL RANKINGS

Offense: 21st overall, 329.0 ypg (28th rushing, 13th passing).

Defense: 27th overall, 371.3 ypg (30th rushing, 14th passing).

TEAM LEADERS

Head coach: Mike Tomlin.

Offense:

QB: Ben Roethlisberger (297-of-455, 3,066 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs, 92.1 rating).

Top RB: Najee Harris (237 rush, 873 yards, 3.7 ypc, 6 TDs).

Top WRs: Diontae Johnson (81 catches, 990 yards, 6 TDs), Chase Claypool (47 catches, 753 yards, 1 TDs).

Top TE: Pat Freiermuth (45 catches, 385 yards, 7 TDs).

Defense:

Sacks: OLB T.J. Watt (16).

Leading tackler: LB Joe Schobert (91).

Interceptions: CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (2), CB Ahkello Witherspoon (2).

Take/Give: -2 (13/15).

Kicker: Chris Boswell (24-of-26 FGs, 22-of-24 PATs).

Punter: Pressley Harvin (43.6, 38.8).

Last meeting: October 25, 2020: Steelers 27, Titans 24.

Of note:

-Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane originally signed with the Titans as a rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He appeared in two contests for the Titans in 2018.

-Titans head coach Mike Vrabel played for the Steelers for four seasons after being selected in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft.

-Titans outside linebacker Bud Dupree was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He played six years (2015-2020) for the Steelers.

-Titans outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi entered the NFL with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and he played three years there (2018-2020).

-Titans outside linebackers coach Jim Haslett served as the Steelers defensive coordinator while head coach Mike Vrabel played for Pittsburgh. The duo was together from 1997 through 1999.

-Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton played four seasons at the University of Tennessee (2013-2016).

-Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger needs 27 passing yards to move into 5th place on the NFL's all-time list.

-Steelers RB Najee Harris leads rookies with 1,270 scrimmage yards (873 rush, 397 rec.).

Injury Report

DE Montravius Adams (illness)

CB Joe Haden (foot)

QB Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral/rt.shoulder)

LB Alex Highsmith (quad)

TE Kevin Radar (hip)

LB Robert Spillane (knee)

LB T.J Watt (groin)

DE Isaiah Buggs (ankle)

DT Carlos Davis (knee)

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel

(on the Steelers and what to expect from that game)

They are physical. Very physical on defense. Usually, they are very sound. Pittsburgh is obviously a tough place to play. I just think there is a mindset and a mentality that they are going to be in every football game. You have seen them come back and battle back and always be in it at the end whether they are playing with Ben Roethlisberger or anybody else for that matter. That is just going back in the last couple years. We will have to get started. Already have started. Continue to get our players ready to go on the road playing in Pittsburgh in December and knowing there is probably going to be some elements and things that we are going to have to deal with. We are going to have to kick it well, finish drives, try and score points and see if we can definitely try to stop a really good back, some really good receivers and a Hall of Fame quarterback.

(on how much he is preaching physicality this week leading up to the game against the Steelers)

Hopefully that is just how you play the game. When you play a team that plays that way and prides themselves in doing that, that is something that we are certainly going to have to be ready for and prepared for. Hopefully that is a style in which we can play as well.

(on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and how tough it is to bring him down in the backfield)

We have all seen his success late in the game, just his ability to move them down and score quickly. I know that is not where they would want to have been, but it says a lot about him and his offense. They have very, very good skill players. The receivers are all good. The running back is exceptional. They have had some moving pieces with the O-line, but Ben (Roethlisberger) makes it all go. Very good down the field and a very good deep ball thrower. He is going to take shots and they have done a great job of coming down with them or creating a penalty. Really good technique down the field. He is not like he was when he was younger, but he is still big and it is going to be tough to tackle him.

(on the Steelers defense and if it is the frequency or the variety of their blitzes that is the bigger concern)

Probably just the variety. There are different packages. There are different fronts with where they move some of these outside linebackers around and where they put them and some of the stuff they do. It may look unorthodox at times, but it is a very sound and very aggressive approach.

(on Steelers running back Najee Harris and the challenges he presents)

I noticed in the Ravens game when they needed a comeback and had a huge drive there in the fourth quarter, they handed it to him, threw it to him and checked down. The workload doesn't seem to bother him. The one thing that seems to impress me the most about him is on the mistakes that they have made, whether that is an interception, he is the one that is out there that is at the front of the pack trying to chase down the guy with the ball. He is playing with great effort. There were times he was breaking tackles, runs behind his pads, has good balance, catches the ball very well, naturally. We will have to go into the game with the idea of trying to stop him and then when (Benny) Snell (Jr.) is in there, obviously he is physical player who isn't afraid of contact.

(on what stands out in the Steelers red zone offense)

The different players that they have and the different skillsets. They have (Chase) Claypool who can go up and get the football. They find him a lot around the back of the end zone and in the corners. I think Diontae Johnson is one of the best natural route runners that we will face the entire season. He is sudden and he is tough to bring down after short gains. He does a great job of stemming routes at the second level. (James) Washington plays with really good play strength and (Pat) Freiermuth is along the lines of (Chase) Claypool. Put him on the backside and throw it to him one-on-one with a corner. That tells you what they think about him.

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