In a highly emotional must-win Thursday night affair at Acrisure Stadium, the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled out a big 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans, improving their record to 5-3 and keeping them in the AFC playoff picture for now.
On offense, the biggest story was receiver Diontae Johnson, who once again was quarterback Kenny Pickett's most reliable target. Johnson would finish the game with 90 receiving yards and his first touchdown in over two seasons. On the ground, running back Jaylen Warren led the way with 113 total yards (88 rushing, 11 receiving). Najee Harris had a strong outing as well, with 69 rushing yards and a touchdown.
On defense, linebacker Alex Highsmith had a strong game, finishing with two sacks, four tackles, and had Titans tackle Andre Dillard's number. Fellow pass rushers Markus Golden and T.J. Watt each recorded sacks. Cornerback Levi Wallace registered two pass deflections, and inside linebacker Kwon Alexander recorded two tackles, a pass deflection, and the game-winning interception.
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For the longest time, fans have maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada, holding him responsible for the deficiencies of the offense. This game was a completely different story. Canada stood on the sidelines instead of sitting in the booth and called a decent game, namely their touchdown drives in the first quarter and fourth quarter. By no means was Canada perfect, but on this night, he showed that he could put together a winning game plan.
The other unfortunate theme of this contest was injuries, giving us a reminder that the sport of football is indeed a dangerous one. In the second quarter, linebacker Cole Holcomb sustained a gruesome knee injury. Late in the fourth quarter, receiver Treylon Burks fell hard to the ground when attempting to make a reception, which resulted in him being taken off the field by a stretcher. Both incidents may likely be season-ending, but their long-term health is what ultimately matters.