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McNair Is Winner in Cameo

September 25, 2000|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Steve McNair, who had limited practice time all week and didn't start because of a bruised sternum, replaced Neil O'Donnell and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 left Sunday, rallying Tennessee to a 23-20 victory over winless Pittsburgh.

McNair came in with 2:35 left after O'Donnell, making his first start at Three Rivers Stadium since leaving Pittsburgh, was injured on a sack.

After one of Tennessee's equipment managers scrambled to get his helmet, McNair entered with the Titans trailing, 20-16.

On third and 11 at his 36, McNair completed a 22-yard pass to Chris Sanders on his first attempt and then ran for nine yards.

McNair then passed to Derek Mason for a 15-yard gain to the 18 before finding tight end Erron Kinney on a blown coverage for the go-ahead touchdown.

"I couldn't believe the configuration of the defense," McNair said. "I just didn't want to overthrow him."

In five plays, McNair went three for three for 51 yards, ran for nine more and then took a knee to run out the clock.

McNair said it was a good thing that during his limited time practicing this week, he worked on the two-minute offense.

"It was the same stuff," McNair said. "It paid off. I prepared all week like I was going to start. I stayed focused and when I went in there it was just a matter of how quickly I could get into a rhythm."

Kordell Stewart tried to rally the Steelers (0-3). Stewart, who earlier scored on a one-yard plunge, entered after starter Kent Graham injured his right hip with 1:10 remaining.

Stewart moved the Steelers to the Titan 32, and for the second consecutive week, Pittsburgh was unable to convert an opportunity to tie the score.

Kris Brown's 50-yard field-goal attempt with 18 seconds remaining was short, and the Steelers lost by the same 23-20 score they did the previous Sunday against Cleveland when they failed to get the field-goal unit onto the field in time for an opportunity to tie the score and force overtime.

Al Del Greco kicked three field goals for the Titans (2-1), who won their sixth in a row over the Steelers.

Tennessee did take a bruising in the injury department. Defensive lineman Joe Salave'a was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure after injuring his neck in the first half. Tight end Frank Wycheck suffered a concussion while making a catch in the first half and didn't return, and Jevon Kearse has a hip flexor.

Pittsburgh has lost 10 of 11 and is 0-3 for the first time since 1986.

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