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Mettenberger shakes off interception, throws for 2 TDs before Titans lose 27-24 to Steelers

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Zach Mettenberger bounced back after his first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The defense had five sacks, and Tennessee committed only one penalty.

The Titans are showing signs of improvement. Just not enough to get a win.

Tennessee's offense got bogged down in the fourth quarter, and the Titans were unable to stop Pittsburgh down the stretch of a 27-24 loss to the Steelers on Monday night.

"Zach showed some good poise tonight," Titans running back Dexter McCluster said. "He sat in the pocket and made some great throws. The offensive linemen did some good things, I think, overall, we did good as an offense, but that means nothing without the win."

Mettenberger threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee's fourth straight loss. Jason McCourty also intercepted a pass in the end zone for the Titans (2-8).

But the Steelers (7-4) held the ball for nearly 40 minutes, including the final 6:58, and had a 386-312 edge in total offense.

"It's frustrating to be on a stage like this and have the opportunity to get the losing taste out of our mouths," Titans safety George Wilson said. "But we didn't make the plays to be able to get off the field. ... There's no moral victories in this league. There's no pity parties, and nobody is going to take it easy on us. We have to go out and fight and earn it."

Le'Veon Bell ran for 204 yards and a touchdown for Pittsburgh, and Ben Roethlisberger threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with 9:01 left. William Gay returned an interception 28 yards for a score on the Titans' first offensive play of the game. Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals.

"Not a perfect night but really a great night for us in that we were down by 11, and we had an opportunity to bounce back," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "And I think anytime you can do that and gain victory you grow from it and grow from it in the right ways."

Roethlisberger had never beaten the Titans at LP Field, missing the Steelers' win here in 2010. With Bell running through and over the Titans, the Steelers took the pressure off Big Ben.

"He got rolling, and we couldn't make a play and that's disappointing," Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That's the way it went. We tried a lot of different things to try to stop their run game."

PHOTO: Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson celebrates a sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson celebrates a sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Mettenberger and the Titans erased an early 10-0 deficit with an impressive flurry. Bishop Sankey ran for a TD, Ryan Succop kicked a 20-yard field goal and McCourty picked off a pass intended for Brown just before halftime.

The Titans called timeout, and then Mettenberger threw to a wide-open Nate Washington, who beat Gay with a stutter-step on his way to a career-best 80-yard touchdown reception. Washington, who won two Super Bowl rings in Pittsburgh, wagged his finger at the crowd once he got to the 25.

Mettenberger added a 4-yard TD pass to Chase Coffman in the third quarter, capping an 11-play drive for a 24-13 lead.

"We feel very close," Mettenberger said. "We're not doing enough to win football games. That's the bottom line and the most important thing. But rookie running back, rookie left tackle, rookie quarterback, rookie middle linebacker. We're doing a lot of good things."

Former Titans veteran Mike Munchak coached the Steelers' offensive line in his first game in his NFL career against the franchise he spent 32 seasons with as a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and coach. The Titans let Munchak go in January after going 22-26 in three seasons as head coach, and Munchak's offensive line opened big holes for Bell.

Whisenhunt, who won a Super Bowl ring as offensive coordinator with Pittsburgh, took over the Titans in January, trying to turn around a franchise that last won a playoff game in January 2004.

NOTES: Mettenberger's 263 yards passing was a rookie record in Monday night games. ... Steelers rookie WR Martavis Bryant lost his streak of consecutive games with a TD catch at four. ... It was the coldest game at LP Field with the temperature at kickoff at 25 degrees.


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