Roethlisberger rallies Steelers to OT victory
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers apparently are going to stay with this Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes combination until somebody beats them.
Jeff Reed kicked a 33-yard field goal with 4:32 gone in overtime and the Super Bowl champion Steelers again relied on Roethlisberger’s ability to lead clutch scoring drives to beat the Tennessee Titans 13-10 in the NFL season opener Thursday night.
The Steelers, their running game stuffed by Tennessee’s defense, didn’t get going until Roethlisberger began repeatedly finding Holmes and Hines Ward open downfield. Roethlisberger went 33 of 43 for 363 yards, with Holmes — the Super Bowl star — making nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown and Ward, despite a potentially costly fumble, making eight for 103.
Holmes’ statistics were exactly the same as the Super Bowl, when he caught the winning 6-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger in the final minute to beat Arizona 27-23.
Thursday’s victory might be costly, however — star safety Troy Polamalu, the best player on the field during the first half, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on a blocked field goal. Coach Mike Tomlin said the injury usually sidelines a player 3 to 6 weeks.
‘‘It is speculation at this point (how long he will be out),’’ Tomlin said.
The Titans lost the coin toss to start the overtime and, as so often happens, never saw the ball again. Roethlisberger, who led a touchdown drive at the end of the first half, hit Ward for 11 yards, Holmes for 11 and rookie Mike Wallace for 22. Unwilling to risk a turnover, the Steelers kicked the field goal on first down to win it.
‘‘It’s nice to know we can win close games,’’ Reed said. ‘‘This is my eighth year here and I’ve been in a lot of close games, and we usually are on the up side of those.’’
While the Steelers ended up winning on two Reed field goals, the Titans may have lost because Rod Bironas twice couldn’t convert from inside the 40.
‘‘The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t beat the Tennessee Titans, the Tennessee Titans beat the Tennessee Titans,’’ said wide receiver Nate Washington, the former Steelers player.