PITTSBURGH -- The Tennessee Titans began the season with an embarrassing step back. It merely set the stage for a significant leap forward.
"Yes, we were a little sloppy at spots; yes we wish we scored more points," Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said. "And we'll fix some of those things. But we did what we had to do to win the football game."
Pittsburgh managed just 195 total yards and lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, likely for the year with torn ligaments in his right knee. Linebacker Larry Foote also is done after rupturing his right biceps.
Pouncey is the linchpin of a retooled offensive line; Foote is the wise sage for one of the NFL's best linebacking groups.
The Steelers hadn't lost a home opener in a decade and figured to have little trouble against the Titans, who gave up more points than any team in the NFL last season and brought in Williams as an assistant. The former defensive coordinator's impact was immediate, just a year removed from his role in the bounty scandal with the New Orleans Saints that lead to a league suspension.
While Munchak stressed that coordinator Jerry Gray is in charge of the play calling, there's little doubt Williams' presence has keyed an attitude shift in a unit that took the brunt of the blame for a 6-10 season.
Aggressive from the opening snap, Tennessee forced two turnovers, limited the Steelers to 32 yards rushing and didn't allow a touchdown until garbage time.
"We're working much more together now," defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said. "Nobody's pointing fingers at anybody else and nobody's being selfish. We have to work as a unit, and that's what we did today."
The Steelers came in with 10 straight victories in home openers, the longest streak in the league. They went winless in the preseason, but stressed they were fine.
Doesn't look like it.
Running back Isaac Redman fumbled twice, including once deep in Tennessee territory. The defense limited big plays but failed to generate a turnover or a momentum-swinging sack.
Locker completed 11 of 20 passes for 125 yards, but he led Tennessee on a lengthy scoring drive early in the fourth quarter that gave the Titans a 13-2 lead and sent most of the crowd streaming toward the exit.
The Titans needed 42 carries to run for 112 yards, but what their runs lacked in pop they made up for in persistence.
"I think coming in we were going to run it, we felt we had to," Munchak said. "We had to get a lot of touches. It's like a boxing match. It's a lot of (little) runs, but we felt we were wearing them out by doing that."
The subdued ending hardly seemed possible after one of the more memorable opening weekend flubs by Tennessee kick returner Darius Reynaud.
"I know I was in the end zone," Reynaud said. "I did not know where the ball was. That's something I need to work on."
Pittsburgh's euphoria lasted all of eight plays. After the free kick, the Steelers were driving when guard David DeCastro fell on Pouncey's right knee. Pouncey was on the ground for several minutes before being taken off on a golf cart. Kelvin Beachum stepped in for Pouncey, but the drive ended when Redman -- the de facto starter with rookie Le'Veon Bell sidelined by a sprained right foot -- fumbled into the end zone.
NOTES: Roethlisberger became the 35th quarterback over 30,000 career yards passing. He's now at 30,035 yards in 10 seasons. Tennessee running back Shonn Greene left with a knee injury in the second quarter. Pittsburgh's last loss in its home opener came in 2002 against Oakland.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press