After the New England Patriots lost on Saturday night, the Tennessee Titans had a shot at taking control of the AFC on Sunday. Instead they remain engaged in a battle for the AFC South after blowing a 10-0 lead to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh converted turnovers on three straight Titans possessions into three field goals in the second half to keep their playoff hopes afloat at 7-6-1 with a 19-13 win.
Chiefs now in control of AFC
The loss drops the Titans to 9-5 and a game behind the 10-4 Kansas City Chiefs, who now own a full-game lead over Tennessee and New England in the race for the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed. The loss also means the Titans now hold a one-game edge in the AFC South over the Indianapolis Colts, who delivered Saturday's loss to the Patriots. They also hold the tiebreaker in the division after beating the Colts twice this season.
Titans start hot, fizzle late
Tennessee looked on its way to a win by opening a 10-0 lead that included a touchdown sneak by Ryan Tannehill. But a playmaking Steelers defense forced four turnovers to secure the victory despite Pittsburgh's offense managing just 168 yards.
The Titans had a chance at a game-winning touchdown drive in the final moments of the fourth quarter. But the effort came up short in the red zone as Tannehill's fourth-down pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ended inches short of a first down for a game-ending turnover.
T.J. Watt continues to shine in record-breaking season
As the Steelers tallied 133 passing yards from Ben Roethlisberger and just 35 rushing yards on 17 carries, their defensive stars carried the load. T.J. Watt hit Tannehill three times and recorded 1.5 sacks to raise his career-high tally to 17.5, which is a Steelers single-season record with three games to go. He also recovered one of three fumbles turned over by the Titans when Tannehill mishandled a snap late in the third quarter.
The Steelers couldn't convert any of the four Titans turnovers into more than a field goal, but they didn't need to as Pittsburgh's offense didn't record a giveaway. The Steelers remain on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff race with the 8-6 Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills in control of the final three wild-card spots.
The Steelers have a tough slate remaining with games against the Chiefs, Browns and AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens. The Titans close with games against the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans.