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Steelers notebook: Exhausted defense gets no relief

| Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley stopped short of pointing fingers at the offense, but insisted the defense spent far too much time on the field, especially in the second half.

The Tennessee Titans won the time of possession battle by nearly 10 minutes – including nearly 11 minutes in the third quarter — to wear down a defense that surrendered 112 yards rushing in a 16-9 defeat at Heinz Field on Sunday.

“It always affects you, and in a lot of ways when you're on the field as long as we were in the second half,” said Woodley, who recorded the Steelers' only sack.” When you allow a team to run the ball, you give them the opportunity to be able to pass it. We've got a do a better job of getting the offense better field position, too.”

The Titans began their assault on the clock with a 12-play scoring drive that chewed up 6:48 late in the second quarter. Then, Tennessee put together drives that totaled 5:52 and 6:19 in taking a 13-2 lead that put the Steelers in a race against time.

“We were getting off the field on third downs and the other team was possessing the ball and taking advantage of the clock,” said receiver Antonio Brown. “When you don't put points on the board, that's the end result.”

“It's kind of hard to force turnovers and get plays on the ball when they can run the ball,” safety Troy Polamalu said. “It's important for us to stop the run.”

Roethlisberger reaches milestone

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 21 of 31 passes for 191 yards to push his career passing yards over the 30,000-yards plateau. The two-time Super Bowl winner became the 35th quarterback in NFL history to reach that mark.

Thunderous debut for Jones

Rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones introduced himself to the NFL by delivering a thunderous blow to Tennessee running back Chris Johnson. He swept past left tackle Michael Roos to pin Johnson for a loss.

“The tackle blocked down and the tight end forgot to block me,” Jones said. “I don't even remember what happened. When the tackle blocked down, I just came off his butt to meet Chris in the backfield. I thought I did OK, but I could do a lot better. I got cut a lot, which is something I've got to work on.”

Jones had only two tackles, but both were for losses. He played mostly on special teams, and had one tackle on kickoff coverage.

Spotlight on Sanders

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders figured he would get plenty of balls thrown his way with Antonio Brown drawing double coverage. Roethlisberger targeted Sanders a game-high 12 times, and he had a game-high seven receptions for 57 yards. But Sanders dropped a deep ball at the Tennessee 20 on the Steelers' first possession after the Titans gave up a safety on the opening kickoff.

Washington, Taylor in heated battle

Cornerback Ike Taylor mentioned on TribLive Radio that he expected a grueling matchup with former Steelers receiver Nate Washington. Washington had only four catches, but three against Taylor — all for first downs to keep alive two Tennessee scoring drives.

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.

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