Not your typical Steelers, but still a win

Steelers linebacker Lamarr Woodley sacks Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in front of Titans...

Steelers linebacker Lamarr Woodley sacks Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in front of Titans fullback Ahmard Hall in Pittsburgh, Penn., Oct. 9, 2011. (JASON COHN/Reuters)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:59 PM ET

TORONTO - Those weren’t your father or your grandfather’s Pittsburgh Steelers out there on Sunday.

Steelers football was kind of forced to take the week off.

No Rashard Mendenhall, a basically immobile Ben Roethlisberger that spent most of the day settling for screens and little dump passes, and an offensive line that was life and death to field five healthy offensive linemen.

Mike Tomlin could not play Steelers football. He had to adapt — and he did just that.

With a Steelers drive apparently stalled at the 50, Tomlin sent Daniel Sepulveda in to punt. But with the Tennessee special teamers retreating to set up a return, Sepulveda stepped up and threw to a wide open Ryan Mundy for a 33-yard gain.

Two plays later Hines Ward would haul in his first of two touchdowns and the Steelers would go on to rout the surprising Titans 38-17.

Not everything is fixed in Pittsburgh, but that cloud of anxiety that had surrounded this team for the better part of the first four weeks was certainly lifted by this performance.

Yes, the offensive line still resembles more of a MASH unit than it does an NFL offensive line, but even on that front there was some progress.

Max Starks, the guy who got cut in training camp because he came in too heavy (like there’s such a thing as an offensive lineman being too heavy) returned and played admirably despite the fact that he still looks the same size he did when he got cut.

Steeler Nation held its breath a little when Maurkice Pouncey had to leave the game temporarily with an ankle injury. But he returned and looked to be as effective as ever.

If there was one area in which the Steelers looked exactly like the Steelers of old it was in the secondary, led by Troy Polamalu. Pittsburgh’s last line of defence made Matt Hasselbeck and his Titan receivers work for every yard they got.

Up front, the Steelers front seven, ripped all season for their sieve-like run defence, held Chris Johnson to just 51 yards on 14 carries with 21 of that 51 coming on the Titans first play of the afternoon.

Coming into the game, the Pittsburgh run defence was ranked 22nd in the league giving up 119.5 yards a game on the ground. Other than Johnson’s 51 yesterday, the Titans only got another 15 yards on the ground for a total of 66.

That’s the Steelers run defence of a year ago showing up again — and that’s without James Harrison, who will be out a while longer after breaking an orbital bone around his eye.

The Steelers even got their first interception of the season, as unorthodox as it was.

A Hasselbeck throw got tipped at the line and linebacker LaMarr Woodley came down with the jump ball for the first pick of 2011.

Roethlisberger was no where close to top form as he limped on and off the field, but Pittsburgh’s conservative play calling helped him get through the game without too much in the way of contact.

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was the only one to get a clear shot at him and recorded the only Titans sack of the afternoon.

Most importantly for the Steelers, they once again looked like a defence that can intimidate and you haven’t really been able to say that all season about this club until now.

FOURTH AND INCHES

It was nice to see Ward get into the end zone a couple of times but football can really do without the Dancing with the Stars post-touchdown celebrations ... Rashard Mendenhall was dressed and available to play but was not used. His injured hamstring was given a little more time to heal. Isaac Redman got the start but it was the seldom-used Jonathan Dwyer who stole the show, racking up 107 yards on 11 carries, the majority of it on one 76-yard run. Dwyer had not seen the field this season and only appeared in one game for the Steelers last year ... Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson left Sunday’s game with an apparent shoulder injury, although indications last night were it was actually an injured pectoral muscle. Either way, considering how Charlie Whitehurst played in his absence, Jackson making a return as the starting quarterback would appear to be a long shot.


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