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Steelers down Titans in overtime in NFL opener

JEFF Reed kicked a field goal in overtime to give the Super Bowl champion Pittburgh Steelers a 13-10 win over the Tennessee Titans in yesterday's opener of the new NFL season.

Reed kicked a 33-yard field goal with 4:32 gone in overtime to cap a win that was reliant on Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's ability to lead clutch scoring drives.

The Steelers, their running game curtailed by Tennessee's defense, didn't get going until Roethlisberger began repeatedly finding Santonio 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 Ward, despite a potentially costly fumble, making eight for 103.

The victory might be costly, however. Steelers 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.

The Titans lost the coin toss to start overtime and never saw the ball again. Roethlisberger hit Ward for an 11-yard reception, 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.

Pittsburgh looked ready to win it late in regulation time when Roethlisberger, so adept at running the two-minute offense, took advantage of good field position created by a shanked punt, finding Ward on a 30-yard pass to the 4-yard line. But as Ward was trying to muscle his way closer to the goal line, the ball was stripped.

Even with no running game to support him - the Steelers were outrushed 86-36 as Willie Parker was held to 19 yards on 13 carries - Roethlisberger had one of the biggest games of his career.

Tennessee, usually employers of a running game, went to the air more often. Quarterback Kerry Collins completed 22 of 35 passes for 244 yards after having only four games of 200 yards or more last season.

The Titans never led until kicker Rob Bironas, who had missed twice from inside the 40, connected from 45 yards with 11:03 remaining after Collins kept the drive moving with two 15-yard completions.

The Steelers tied it on Reed's 32-yarder with 2:57 to go. Reed, under pressure, barely got off a low line drive that squeezed through the uprights.


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