Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger, Wallace connect deep early
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace have expressed impatience with the Steelers’ reluctance to stretch defenses. So quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tried to appease them by attempting to hit a home run on their first play from scrimmage Thursday at Tennessee.
Brown couldn’t shed Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner, but Wallace was able to shake cornerback Jason McCourty, hauling in a pass and streaking into the end zone for an 82-yard score and a 10-3 lead.
Wallace had 81- and 95-yard touchdown receptions in 2011.
• Rookie Drew Butler had a punt blocked for the first time when Titans linebacker Tim Shaw slipped past long snapper Greg Warren and upback Ryan Mundy. A year ago, Shaw blocked a Daniel Sepulveda punt, which Courtland Finnegan returned for a touchdown in a 38-17 Steelers’ win. Already, there have been eight blocked punts in the NFL in the first five weeks. There were nine all last season.
• Rookie running back Chris Rainey finally turned in a big play. He returned a kickoff 49 yards to blunt the momentum Tennessee had generated by taking a 3-0 lead on its opening drive. Rainey had been averaging 24.3 yards on kickoff returns.
• Isaac Redman punished the Titans defense with a 33-yard catch and run in the first quarter. Redman isn’t expected to get many touches with Rashard Mendenhall back in the lineup, so he made the most of his chance. He entered the game with six catches for 45 yards.
• James Harrison was a dominant presence in the first half. He recorded a sack but, more importantly, managed to resist the temptation to tattoo receiver Kenny Britt. He pulled up in time to avoid getting flagged with hitting a defenseless receiver — a penalty the Steelers have twice been hit with this season.
• Will Allen, restricted mostly to special teams in the first four games, started at safety in place of Troy Polamalu, who missed his third game with a right calf injury. It was Allen’s first start in three seasons with Pittsburgh and his first since 2009. Jason Worilds started at outside linebacker for LaMarr Woodley rather than Chris Carter, who began the season filling in for the injured Harrison.