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Unbeaten Steelers, Titans set to battle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have been through so much dealing with the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak during the season resulting in one game postponed and rescheduled to a second game pushed to a rare Tuesday night kickoff.

They’ve come through still undefeated.

Now they host one of the NFL’s two other remaining undefeated teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) finally coming to town today to play that first game postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Titans (5-0) also heard the talk they should be punished, even Steelers tight end Eric Ebron’s call to make them forfeit.

“This is something that you look forward to, regardless of all the stuff that’s going on with the pandemic and … being worried about forfeiting a game man,” Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans. “And these are the type of games you look forward to.”

The delay simply made this game bigger.

This is only the fifth time in NFL history that two undefeated teams have played in Week 7 or later, not counting strike seasons. The winner of the first four all made the Super Bowl that season with now-Titans coach Mike Vrabel playing and winning two such games with the Patriots.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said his Steelers have talked about dealing with the uncertainty since training camp. His Steelers were forced to take their bye on Oct. 4, erasing their scheduled bye with now three straight road games, beginning with this AFC showdown.

“As competitors, you got to appreciate and respect those opportunities, and we do,” Tomlin said.

SPREADING THE WEALTH

Both the Steelers and Titans get everyone involved on offense. Five different players have led each team in yards receiving this season.

Pittsburgh is fourth in the NFL in scoring with Ben Roethlisberger leading a balanced attack, and he says they haven’t had to put up gaudy passing numbers like 2018 when he was the league’s passing leader.

“I’d like to think if needed to, we could do that because we have some amazing pass catchers that can do great things with the ball in their hands, but what we have been able to do right now is win football games,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s what is most important.”

The Titans have been very balanced too, and they have put up some eye-popping numbers. They’re second in the NFL in both scoring, averaging 32.8 points a game, and total yards (422.0).

THE REPLACEMENTS

Both the Steelers and Titans are having to replace very big pieces because of injuries. Pittsburgh lost inside linebacker Devin Bush for the year after tearing his left ACL last week against Cleveland. Taylor Lewan, the Titans’ three-time Pro Bowl left tackle, tore his right ACL against Houston.

Rob Spillane, who began his NFL career with Tennessee in 2018 after making the team following a tryout, will get the first opportunity at filling in for a player who hadn’t missed a snap all season. Veteran lineman Ty Sambrailo will be at left tackle for Tennessee.

HEALING UP

The Titans finally have every player back from the reserve/COVID-19 list, which included 13 of the 24 who tested positive inside the organization during the outbreak. That includes starting wide receiver Corey Davis and tight end MyCole Pruitt.

WELCOME BACK

Punter Jordan Berry is back with the Steelers. The team re-signed Berry on Saturday, less than two months after cutting him to make room for veteran Dustin Colquitt. Colquitt, however, struggled during Pittsburgh’s 5-0 start and was released on Friday after posting the lowest net punting average in the league.

Berry, who averaged 44.2 yards a kick during his first five seasons with the Steelers from 2015-19, will be the punter when Pittsburgh visits Tennessee today in a game between 5-0 teams.

The Steelers also elevated running back Trey Edmunds and linebacker Jayrone Elliott from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

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