Here are the five keys for the Titans against the Steelers in Thursday’s prime time game in Pittsburgh.
1. Withstand the environment. Pittsburgh is one of those places in the NFL where it can be extremely difficult on visiting teams. Add in a night time atmosphere, a short week and a national television game, and the task becomes even tougher for the visiting Titans. They will have to dig in and not be overcome by the crowd and not fold if they make an early mistake.
2. Attack the corners. The Steelers may have to start former Titan Coty Sensabaugh in the game due to an injury to Joe Haden. The Titans know Sensabaugh well, and they would be wise to send Rishard Matthews or Corey Davis his way and hope for a big play down the field.
3. Protect the franchise. Marcus Mariota was sacked four times by the Bengals on Sunday. The Steelers have some potent pass rushers in T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree up the middle, but also have standouts on the inside like Ryan Shazier. The Titans have to keep that front seven off Mariota, and Tennessee would be wise to keep the Steelers’ honest with a few designed runs off the read-option, so long as Mariota doesn’t put himself in harm’s way.
4. Ring the Bell. LeVeon Bell is one of best running backs in the league, and even though the Steelers have lots of weapons for Ben Roethlisberger to throw to, with Antonio Brown at the top of the list, keeping Bell in check is perhaps the most important aspect of slowing down the Steelers offense.
5. Do it for Dick LeBeau. LeBeau has downplayed his return to Heinz Field, but the players know it means something for him to come back there and have a good showing. Perhaps that extra motivation and emotion can spark the Titans to pull off the upset.