Titans Lose Lead, Then Game, in 19-13 Loss to Steelers

211219-game-recap

PITTSBURGH – In the Steel City, the Titans had a second half meltdown.

And it proved costly.

The Titans lost 19-13 to the Steelers here at Heinz Field on Sunday, as a 10-point first half lead slipped away because of turnovers and mistakes.

"It's a sick feeling," Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "Any time you walk away with a loss, it's a sick feeling. For as many mistakes as we made throughout the game, to have a shot there at the end and to be moving the ball. … (We had) confidence in the huddle we were going to walk away with a win."

The Titans instead walked away disappointed, their last ditch-effort coming up short.

As a result, the Titans fell to 9-5.

The Titans did some good things – the defense held the Steelers to just 12 first downs and 168 yards of offense. The Titans ran the ball for 201 yards, led by Titans running back D'Onta Foreman's 109 rushing yards.

But the Titans turned the ball over four times in the game, including three times in the second half.

It proved to be too much to overcome.

"The turnovers," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said, "we have to hold the ball in much more regard. Obviously you can't do that and think you are going to win. That's what I appreciate this team, is that they battle. (But we) made it too hard on ourselves."

The Titans jumped out to a nice start, thanks in part, to a swarming defense that did its part most the day.

A 55-yard punt return by Chester Rogers gave the team an early spark, and six plays later, Tannehill scored on a one-yard touchdown run to give the Titans a 7-0 lead.

After a stop on defense, the Titans extended their lead to 10-0 on a 26-yard field goal by kicker Randy Bullock, which capped an 11-play, 45-yard drive.

Things were looking good.

A fumble by Titans tight end Anthony Firkser gave the Steelers good field position, however, and the Steelers cashed it in for three points on a Chris Boswell field goal to make it 10-3 with 10:35 left in the second quarter.

The Titans defense forced a pair of three-and-outs in the first quarter, when the Steelers managed just one first down. The Steelers punted on their first four possessions, and the Titans defense rose up to hold Pittsburgh to a field goal after the Firkser fumble.

The Titans led 13-3 at the half, as Bullock's 32-yard field goal capped a 19-play, 64-yard scoring drive that took 10 minutes and 17 seconds off the clock.

The Titans outgained the Steelers 159 to 103 in the first half while holding the ball 21:19 of the game's first 30 minutes.

But things went downhill from there.

The Steelers cut the lead to 13-10 on a one-yard sneak by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with 3:08 left in the third quarter.

The Steelers then tied it up at 13-13 with a 28-yard by Boswell with 13:24 left in the contest.

Minutes later, the Steelers took a 16-13 lead on a 46-yard field goal by Boswell, which followed a Tannehill interception on a tipped pass. The Steelers extended the lead to 19-13 on another Boswell field goal, which followed another Titans turnover, with 4:29 left.

The Titans drove the ball deep into Pittsburgh territory late, but receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was tackled short (by inches) of the yard to gain at the 10-yard line on fourth down, and the Steelers ran out the clock.

Titans outside linebacker Bud Dupree recorded a sack in his return to Pittsburgh, on a day when inside linebacker Zach Cunningham made his Titans debut.

The Titans lost receiver Julio Jones in the first half with a hamstring injury, and he didn't return.

"It's tough," Titans safety Kevin Byard said. "We definitely didn't get the result we wanted. … But we don't have a lot of time to pout and complain. Once we get on this plane, watch the film, flush it, and it's on to San Fran."

The Titans return to action on Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers at Nissan Stadium.

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