Monday, October 10, 2011
Last updated: 9:47 am

He left the media room at Heinz Field just as he had entered it late Sunday afternoon: without the hint of a smile.

One has to assume that coach Mike Tomlin was more enthused behind closed doors after the injury-depleted Steelers drilled the Tennessee Titans, 38-17, in front of 63,875.

But assumptions were all that could be made regarding the fifth-year coach after the Steelers played their most complete game of the season and hung five touchdowns on a defense that had been No. 1 in the NFL in scoring.

"We won," Tomlin said after his 51st career victory, which tied him with Buddy Parker for third on the Steelers' all-time list. "I am ready to move on."

The Steelers (3-2) are in a better position to move forward following an uneven start to the season.

They conclude the AFC South portion of their schedule Sunday when the reeling Jacksonville Jaguars visit Heinz Field. A trip to Arizona for a game against the one-win Cardinals follows. And three of the Steelers' next four games are at home.

Not that the Steelers were getting ahead themselves yesterday, even after a win that ultimately may be viewed as one that finally got their season going.

The mood in the home locker room could be described as muted, especially given the caliber of opponent and the relative ease with which the Steelers dispatched the Titans (3-2) despite missing five starters.

"We'll see what we do on a consistent basis," said All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, who made a key stop on the first possession of the game and finished with nine tackles. "It's our job to maintain a really even level and a humble approach to the game."

In humbling the Titans, the Steelers took the concept of team effort to a different level.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tossed five touchdowns for the second time of his career. Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley had the breakout game everyone has been waiting for with 1.5 sacks and an interception that ranked as one of the plays of the sun-splashed day.

The Steelers also got big contributions from lesser lights.

Chris Hoke, playing for injured nose tackle Casey Hampton, proved to be stout in the middle of a defensive line that limited Titans running back Chris Johnson to 51 yards on 14 carries.

The Steelers are 16-1 in regular-season games that Hoke starts. They improved to 1-0 in games in which Jonathan Dwyer goes over 100 yards rushing.

Dressing because of a hamstring injury that sidelined starting running back Rashard Mendenhall, Dwyer ripped off a 76-yard run in the second quarter. The Steelers' longest run since 2006 – Dwyer also tied Willie Parker for seventh longest in franchise history – led to tight end David Johnson's first NFL touchdown.

Johnson's 1-yard catch gave the Steelers a 21-3 lead, and they weathered a few hiccups on the way to their third consecutive victory against Tennessee.

When asked where that kind of game has been all season, Woodley said, "We were trying to overdo it, make plays that we weren't supposed to make, and I think (yesterday) we went out there and played as a team and everybody stayed in their gap.

"Everybody did a good job of tackling and running to the ball, getting back to Steelers defense the way we've been for years. I think once we do that we're going to be hard to beat."

Inside linebacker James Farrior, who registered a team-high 13 tackles, said the victory is something on which the Steelers can build.

The key will be maintaining the intensity Tomlin ratcheted up last week when he had the Steelers practice twice in pads. Teams are only allowed to have two padded practices in a week once during the season.

"I think we were more focused in practice, and practice was a little more intense during the week and it seemed like everybody was ready to go," Farrior said. "We've just got to keep getting good weeks of practice in and hopefully it will transfer over to the game."

Read more: QB Roethlisberger throws Steelers past Titans – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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