The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line was a huge question mark coming into the 2013 season.
They failed their first test in a big way.
Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was battered and under pressure all game from the Tennessee Titans defense, en route to a 16-9 season opening defeat at Heinz Field.
The game started off very strange when the Steelers were handed a gift from Titans’ return man Darius Reynaud, whose boneheaded play coming out of the end zone to catch the ball then going back in to take a knee for a safety gave the Steelers a quick 2-0 lead.
But that would not be a good omen for the Steelers, who struggled in a big way after that.
Pittsburgh moved the ball well on their opening drive, but Isaac Redman lost a fumble that the Titans recovered in the end zone, to kill what turned out to be the Steelers best drive of the game.
The Steelers lost All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey to an apparent serious knee injury shortly after and their offensive line fell apart.
Roethlisberger was sacked five times on the day and hurried plenty of others as the Steelers’ signal caller had no time to throw the football, dropping a home opener for the first time in his career.
On the afternoon Big Ben completed 21-of-33 pass attempts for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but he had little help from the rest of his offense, especially the rushing attack which gained only 32 yards on the day and averaged a mere 2.1 yards per carry.
While the Steelers’ offense struggle mightily, the defense tried to keep them in the game but a Jackie Battle three-yard touchdown late in the second half, which came after a Roethlisberger pick, was all the Titans really needed.
Rob Bironis added three second-half field goals for the Titans to open up a 16-2 lead, before Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery with a four-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 remaining in the game.
Jake Locker completed 11-of-20 passes for 125 yards in the win, while Chris Johnson rushed for 70 yards on 25 carries.
The Steelers lack of quality depth showed in this one as in addition to Pouncey, they also lost Cortez Allen, Larry Foote and LaRod Stephens-Howling to injuries.
Pittsburgh will try an avoid an 0-2 hole when they travel to Cincinnati next Monday, while the Titans will look to build on the momentum when they travel to take on the Houston Texans next Sunday.