McCourty helps Titans lead Steelers 16-10 at half

Associated Press
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright (13) can't make a catch as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis (23) defends during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tim Shaw blocked a punt to set up the Titans' first rushing touchdown of the season, and Jason McCourty picked off a pass to help Tennessee take a 16-10 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime Thursday night.

Rob Bironas kicked three field goals for the Titans, including a 47-yarder on the final play of the half. Bironas also had 22- and 38-yard kicks in the first quarter.

On the final play of the first quarter, Shaw broke through the middle of the line and blocked Drew Butler's punt. McCourty recovered at the 1 to give the Titans first-and-goal. That set up a 1-yard burst from Jamie Harper that gave the Titans a 13-10 advantage.

Harper's touchdown left St. Louis as the only team without a rushing touchdown this year.

The Steelers reached midfield or Titans territory on three consecutive second-quarter possessions without scoring. The Steelers' best chance came when a 55-yard completion from Ben Roethlisberger to Ike Redman put them at the 32. On the next play, McCourty intercepted a pass intended for Antonio Brown on the right sideline.

Roethlisberger entered the game with 27,703 yards in career passing, 286 yards shy of Terry Bradshaw's franchise record. This was Roethlisberger's 119th career game. Bradshaw played 168 games from 1970-83. Roethlisberger was 11 of 19 for 221 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the first half.

Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was 16 of 28 for 160 yards and connected with eight receivers. Chris Johnson rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries.

Mike Wallace had given the Steelers a 10-6 lead with an 82-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

Wallace beat McCourty on a deep pattern, broke McCourty's tackle attempt at the 30 and sneaked inside the right pylon as safety Michael Griffin tried to push him out of bounds. Wallace lost possession at the end of the play, but replays failed to show whether the ball came loose before he crossed the goal line.

The Titans have allowed at least one first-quarter touchdown in each of their first six games this season.

A Titans offense that had exceeded the 14-point mark in only one of its first five games drove 69 yards on the game's opening possession. The Titans had first-and-goal at the 2 after cornerback Ike Taylor interfered with Damian Williams in the end zone, but the drive stalled from there.

James Harrison sacked Hasselbeck on first-and-goal, and a third-down pass from the 5 went off the hands of a diving Kendall Wright in the right corner of the end zone. Bironas' kick hit the right upright and bounced through to give the Titans their first lead since a 44-41 overtime victory over Detroit on Sept. 23.

The Steelers answered on their opening possession with a 29-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham.

Roethlisberger got the Steelers into field-goal range with a 33-yard completion across the middle to Redman, who dragged a few Titans the last 10 yards on a third-and-7 conversion.

The Steelers were playing without injured strong safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) on defense, and they lost two starting offensive linemen in the first half Thursday.

Center Maurkice Pouncey injured his right leg on the Steelers' first play from scrimmage and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert hurt his right ankle in the second quarter, though his return was listed as probable. Doug Legursky stepped in for Pouncey, while rookie Mike Adams replaced Gilbert. A Steelers drive into Titans territory in the second quarter stalled when Derrick Morgan got around Adams and sacked Roethlisberger on a third-down play.

The Steelers were attempting to move above .500 for the first time this season after splitting their first four games. They should have felt right at home in Nashville, as roughly half the fans at LP Field were waving Terrible Towels while dressed in Steeler black-and-gold.

The Titans were seeking to bounce back from a 1-4 start in which each of their losses was decided by at least 21 points.


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