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Steelers and Titans show themselves on TNF

The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night at Heinz Field, winning 40-17 after a close first 35 minutes.

Pittsburgh was able to pull away after a 75-yard Rishard Matthews touchdown on the first play of the third quarter, outscoring Tennessee 24-3 the rest of the way. It was a show of power by the Steelers, who finally saw Ben Roethlisberger get going with four touchdowns against no interceptions for the first time all year. Le’Veon Bell totaled 103 total yards while Antonio Brown caught three scores in the rout.

Pittsburgh is now 8-2 and in first place of the AFC standings, holding all the cards in the race for a trip to Super Bowl LII. The Steelers are showing that not only can they dominate defensively, something that hasn’t been the case since the days of Troy Polamalu and Joey Porter, but the offense remains as potent as ever.

Meanwhile, Tennessee is letting us know that it is not ready for primetime. Marcus Mariota looked lost throughout the night, throwing a quartet of interceptions while being sacked five times. Mariota was supposed to be one of the future stars to take the next step this year. Instead, he looks like the third-best quarterback in his own division, provided Andrew Luck can come back next year as his usual self.

As for this season, we know the Steelers are going to be heard from the rest of the way. Considering how easy its schedule is (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Cleveland, Houston and New England) it stands to reason that Pittsburgh is going to be earning a first-round bye in the postseason and likely be the top seed. If that’s the case, the Steelers only have to worry about the Patriots and maybe the Kansas City Chiefs, a team they have thoroughly dominated in their last three meetings. Nobody else could beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh without a complete meltdown.

On the other side of the coin, the Titans have to be wondering what the rest of the season holds in store. Tennessee is trailing the Jacksonville Jaguars by a half-game in the AFC South and are likely to fall a full game behind when the Jaguars play the Cleveland Browns this weekend. Tennessee will need to stay within a game of Jacksonville the rest of the season before playing it in Week 17. A win would mean the Titans take the division considering they beat the Jaguars in Week 2 at EverBank Stadium.

The AFC is a three-team race. It could have been a four-team battle if Tennessee pulled off the upset and announced itself in Pittsburgh. Instead, it was humiliated by the conference’s best team.

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