The identity of the 2013 Tennessee Titans won’t be defined by one game, and they know this.
A hard-fought 16-9 road win in which the Titans accomplished several of their goals, however, wasn’t one they minded reflecting on after upending the Steelers.
Titans players repeatedly said they would enjoy the victory for 24 hours before returning to work Monday with a focus on preparing for back-to-back defending AFC South champ Houston.
“It’s big for us to come here to Pittsburgh, a place where they’re strong, and get a win, especially battling the adversity we faced,” said Alterraun Verner, whose interception was one of two turnovers claimed by Tennessee. “It’s big but we can’t hang our hats on this and just fade out next week.”
Adversity did strike three seconds into the game when returner Darius Reynaud picked up the opening kick at the 1-yard line and took a step backward to take a knee. The play resulted in a safety, spotting the Steelers two points and giving the ball back to them in good field position. Pittsburgh converted its first three third downs (all of which needed eight or more yards) but fumbled on third-and-1. Linebacker Moise Fokou recovered the ball for a touchback, and Tennessee allowed Pittsburgh to convert 1-of-9 third downs the rest of the game.
Nate Washington, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Steelers before joining the Titans in 2009, knew it would be a tough environment.
“These guys pride themselves, especially on opening day, so for us to get the win, we’re definitely happy about it but we’ll come out (Monday) and move forward,” Washington said. “We can’t be complacent for where we stand. We did a lot of good things, but there’s things we need to clean up.”
Washington led Titans receivers with four catches as Tennessee had 42 rushes and 20 pass attempts. He said it was important for the Titans — the ones who returned and the 20 new players — to show a “different attitude.”
“We don’t look at any game like it’s not possible,” Washington said. “It kind of didn’t start out the way we wanted to, but we never got down on ourselves.”
Guard Andy Levitre, who was brought in during free agency, is one of three new starters on the interior of the offensive line. The changes were made to help the Titans become a more physical team, and Tennessee stayed committed to the run throughout the game.
“It is just one game but it is a good way to establish ourselves,” Levitre said. “We talked about it during the offseason, that we want to be able to run the ball when we want to, and having to go to that (Sunday) and being successful at it is good for us the rest of the season.”
Safety Bernard Pollard, another key free agent addition who joined Tennessee after helping Baltimore win Super Bowl XLVII, said the road win was encouraging, but won’t mean as much if the Titans don’t continue to improve.
“We could have done better, but at the end of the day, I’m so happy for our team, our fans, the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee because this is what we want to see,” Pollard said. “We are capable of going out there and winning games. The history that’s (in Pittsburgh), the environment that we played in, it’s hard to win, and I thought our team played really well.”
Fokou agreed with the desire to keep improving.
“It’s a big victory, especially coming into the Steelers’ home, especially with the tradition they have and knowing what kind of football team they are, so it was a great start but we have a lot of work to do and are looking forward to it,” Fokou said.
Tags: Alterraun Verner, Andy Levitre, Bernard Pollard, Moise Fokou, Nate Washington, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans
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