NASHVILLE, Tenn. — This week the national spotlight descends upon Tennessee as the Titans (2-7) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) on Monday Night Football. It is the 77th all-time meeting between the former division rivals. Kickoff at LP Field (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST on Monday, Nov. 17.
The Titans are 11-6 on Monday Night Football, having won five of their last six. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
ESPN will broadcast the game to a national television audience. The telecast can be seen locally in Nashville on WKRN News 2. Mike Tirico will handle play-by-play duties, while Jon Gruden provides analysis and Lisa Salters reports from the sidelines.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, gameday host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.
Additionally, Westwood One Sports will broadcast the game to a national radio audience. Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Kurt Warner (analyst) and Steve Tasker (sidelines) will have the call.
TITANS LOOK TO CONTINUE RECENT MONDAY NIGHT SUCCESS
A win against the Steelers would give the Titans five consecutive wins on Monday Night Football and improve their all-time Monday night record to 22-16. They have not lost a Monday night contest since Nov. 19, 2007 at Denver, vanquishing the Indianapolis Colts (2008), Houston Texans (2009), Jacksonville Jaguars (2010) and New York Jets (2012) along the way.
More germane to the current squad, the Titans need a victory to end a losing streak. They have dropped three straight games since an Oct. 12 win over the Jaguars, most recently at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.
In a hostile Baltimore setting, the Titans found early success but could not maintain it. Once they took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, they were kept off the scoreboard for the duration of the afternoon and ultimately fell 21-7.
Rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger recorded his second career start and completed 16 of 27 passes for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The sixth-round pick from Louisiana State University became the ninth rookie quarterback in franchise history to start a game on Oct. 26 against the Texans, taking the reins after Jake Locker (four starts) and Charlie Whitehurst (three starts) started the first seven contests of 2014. Mettenberger's 478 total passing yards in the last two weeks are the most for the franchise in a rookie's initial two starts since Jacky Lee's 612 yards in 1960.
*THE STEELERS *
Titans Online looks back at the modern-day rivalry between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Steelers find themselves in perhaps the NFL's most heated divisional race. Their 6-4 mark puts them in a tie with the Ravens for third place in the AFC North, and yet they are only a half game behind the 6-3 and first-place Cleveland Browns. With the Cincinnati Bengals in second place at 5-3-1, the AFC North is the first division in which every team is at least two games above .500 at any point in the season since the 1935 NFL Western Division.
After a 3-3 start to the season, the Steelers averaged more than 41 points over the course of the next three weeks and won all three contests. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw 14 touchdown passes without an interception during that stretch.
But last week, Pittsburgh saw its winning streak snapped by the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Although Roethlisberger posted 340 passing yards and a touchdown, the Jets forced four turnovers to turn the Steelers away with a 20-13 loss.
A first-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Roethlisberger's first three NFL seasons were spent under the direction of current Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt served as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator under Bill Cowher from 2004 through 2006 before he was hired as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Mike Tomlin is in his eighth season as Pittsburgh's head coach. Through his first seven seasons, his 71-41 record was tied for the best start in franchise history, and he became the youngest head coach in NFL history to both coach in and win a Super Bowl when he led the Steelers to a 27-23 victory over Whisenhunt's Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
OFF THE FIELD
As part of the NFL's "Salute to Service," the game feature a tribute to Titans season ticket holders who have served in military conflicts from World War II through the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. All fans in attendance will receive a special "Salute to Service" towel with the Titans Camo Ribbon. At the conclusion of the national anthem, performed by Train's Pat Monahan, Challenger the Bald Eagle will fly onto the playing field.
Additionally, the Titans and Bridgestone are teaming up with local PGA pro Brandt Snedeker during halftime, when Snedeker will attempt five golf shots at targets on the field. For each successful hit, money will be donated to the YWCA to help increase awareness and support for domestic violence prevention.
Before fans enter LP Field, they are encouraged to participate in the annual Second Harvest Food Bank food drive by dropping off non-perishable items at one of several collection sites near the stadium entrances. Among the most-needed items are peanut butter, canned chicken or tuna, canned fruit & vegetables, soups, stews, pasta and cereal.
In a rivalry that dates back to 1970, the Steelers lead the series 44-32. There is no team the Titans have met in their history as often as the Steelers. The next closest is the Cincinnati Bengals with 74 games versus the Titans.
In 1970, upon the merger of the American Football League and the National Football League, the Steelers and then-Oilers began play in the newly-formed AFC Central Division. For the next 32 years (1970-2001), they competed at least twice per season with the exception of 1982 (strike-shortened season) before the Titans moved to the AFC South and the Steelers to the AFC North in 2002. Since 1970, there have been only three seasons -- 2004, 2006 and 2007 -- in which the Titans and Steelers have not squared off.
The first meeting in 1970, a 19-7 Oilers win, was the first regular season game in Three Rivers Stadium, the Steelers' home until moving to Heinz Field in 2001.
The Titans have won 13 of the last 19 games, including a seven-game winning streak from 1997-2000 and the two most recent battles. Also among those Titans victories was a 34-31 final score in a 2002 Divisional Playoff contest.
In 2012, the Titans beat the Steelers on Thursday in primetime (Oct. 11), winning 26-23 on a 40-yard field goal by Rob Bironas as time expired. Then, in the 2013 season opener at Heinz Field, the Titans used five sacks from their defense and a ball-control offense to win 16-9, despite giving up an unusual safety on the opening kickoff.
In addition to Tennessee's 2002 playoff victory, there have been three other postseason games between the teams. They played back-to-back AFC Championship Games following the 1978 and 1979 seasons, with Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" prevailing both times against the "Luv Ya Blue!" Oilers. The Oilers also lost a 1989 Wild Card Game in overtime against the Steelers.