Titans find safety in challenge
With Tennessee Titans linebacker Rocky Boiman in pursuit, Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox was desperately trying to find a way out of the end zone.
It appeared that Maddox had escaped when officials initially ruled that he had crossed the goal line. Then Titans coach Jeff Fisher tossed the red flag to challenge the call, and the game suddenly turned into slow motion.
“I didn’t really know how they would call it,” said Boiman, who replaced injured starter Peter Sirmon (back) midway through the first quarter. “It was a good lift. We needed something to happen because they were driving on us.”
Upon review, officials ruled Maddox down and gave the Titans a safety with 9:30 remaining in the first half and the Steelers leading, 10-0. The call wasn’t the only thing reversed; the momentum swung to the favor of the Titans.
“I thought the safety was accurate,” Fisher said. “That was a big play for us.”
It proved disastrous for the Steelers, as the Titans took advantage of one miscue after another in a 30-13 victory Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
“We never came back from that,” Steelers guard Alan Faneca said. “We never put anything else together.”
The Steelers were forced to punt it back to the Titans, and next thing they knew it was 10-9 after Steve McNair connected with wide receiver Drew Bennett on a 42-yard jump ball and then a 10-yard fade for a touchdown.
“That gave us some momentum,” Titans cornerback Samari Rolle said. “The offense came back and scored, and it was all downhill (for the Steelers) from there.”
The Titans held the Steelers to a field goal, then scored when Samari Rolle’s 49-yard interception set up a McNair-to-Erron Kinney touchdown with 26 seconds remaining.
Despite the Steelers owning a huge advantage in time of possession (21:13 to 8:47) in the first half, the Titans entered halftime with a 16-13 lead.
It all started with the safety.
“It was definitely a huge turning point,” Titans defensive end Kevin Carter said. “Getting that safety and making a clean, distinct stoppage of their offense was important.”