NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Titans wanted to head into the playoffs with a little momentum. Thanks to a dominating performance over the Pittsburgh Steelers, they will have much more than that.
Kerry Collins threw for a touchdown, Chris Johnson and LenDale White ran for a score apiece, and the Titans routed the Steelers, 31-14, yesterday in a showdown of the AFC's best teams. Tennessee clinched the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Coach Jeff Fisher called this the Titans' best game this season.
"This was not a statement game, by no means," Fisher said. "It was a momentum game. We needed to build momentum for the playoffs and the bye week by playing well and winning the game. The bonus is the second game here at home."
Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck, who celebrated by stomping on a Terrible Towel at the end, was much more succinct.
"It sets the tone for the playoffs in the AFC," he said.
The Titans improved the NFL's best record to 13-2 with their 15th win in 17 games. But they were coming off a loss to Houston in which they failed to score a touchdown for the first time this year and were up against the NFL's stingiest defense.
They snapped back very well, ending the Steelers' five-game winning streak and becoming the first team to top 300 yards against Pittsburgh (11-4) this season.
Tennessee did it without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and end Kyle Vanden Bosch because of injuries. Their replacements helped them rest easy as the Titans sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times and forced him into four turnovers that they turned into 21 points.
Rookie Jason Jones, who started for Haynesworth, had 3 1/2 sacks and forced Roethlisberger into three fumbles. Michael Griffin, a Pro Bowl alternate, came up with two interceptions for Tennessee.
"The effort we got out of that group was nothing less than spectacular," Fisher said.
Griffin ended the Steelers' comeback try by picking Roethlisberger off for the second time of the game. Griffin ran back across the field and up the left sideline for an 83-yard TD return with 16 seconds left.