PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns, three to Antonio Brown, and the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled away from the Tennessee Titans in a 40-17 victory on Thursday night.

Running the no-huddle offense extensively for the first time all season, Roethlisberger completed 30 of 45 passes to help the Steelers (8-2) win their fifth straight.

Brown caught 10 passes for 144 yards and the three scores, including an acrobatic grab in the back of the end zone in which he pinned the ball to his helmet before bringing it in to put Pittsburgh up 20 in the fourth quarter.

Marcus Mariota ran for a touchdown and threw for another but also was picked off four times as the Titans (6-4) saw their four-game winning streak come to a crashing halt. Mariota finished 22 of 33 for 306 yards but was under pressure much of the night, absorbing five sacks and rarely finding room to move outside the pocket.

Still, Tennessee appeared to be in it when Mariota hit Rishard Matthews with a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second half to get to 16-14 but Pittsburgh’s long-sputtering offense finally came to life.

Roethlisberger dropped some very not subtle hints that he wanted the freedom provided by the no-huddle after the Steelers used it to pick the Colts apart during the winning drive last Sunday in Indianapolis.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley appeared to be listening.

Pittsburgh opened in the no huddle and needed just six plays to take the lead as Roethlisberger took advantage of a free play and hit Brown with a 41-yard rainbow. Mike Hilton then returned Mariota’s interception to set up the first of Chris Boswell’s four field goals and the Steelers appeared on the verge of another prime-time blowout at home.

The blowout did eventually arrive, just not quickly.

The offense ground to a halt for the rest of the half, held in check by former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Hall of Famer spent 12 years building a defense that helped Pittsburgh to a pair of Super Bowl victories before being ushered out in favor of protege Keith Butler in January, 2015. The 80-year-old is in the middle of his latest project with the steadily improving Titans.

Yet the gap between Tennessee and Pittsburgh remains significant. The proof came after Mathews’ long catch-and-run appeared to give the Titans momentum.

It didn’t last.

The Steelers, with Roethlisberger deftly at the controls, finally showcased the firepower they’ve only flirted with this season. The 35-year-old who has struggled with his accuracy at times was near perfect over the final 30 minutes. He finished 20 of 23 for 185 yards in the second half as Pittsburgh’s $92-million offense sprang to life but scoring on four straight possessions.

Roethlisberger found a leaping Brown for a 5-yard score to put Pittsburgh up 23-14, executed a perfect play-action fake that the goal line before flipping it to a wide-open Jesse James for a 1-yard touchdown and put the Titans away with a lob to the back corner of the end zone that Brown somehow hauled in from 10 yards out that made it 37-17.

Pittsburgh rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster knelt down and bowed to Brown during the giddy celebration. Hard to blame the 20-year-old. For the first time all season, the Steelers put it all together and looked every bit like a team with a legitimate threat to play deep into January and beyond.


COWBOYS: Owner Jerry Jone isn’t backing down on his attempt to block a contract extension for Commissioner Roger Goodell despite “threats of retaliation” from other NFL owners.

On Thursday, Jones requested a special league meeting to discuss Goodell’s contract extension negotiations, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, Jones sent the NFL a letter calling for a Nov. 28 meeting to discuss the negotiations, oversight of the compensation committee handling the deal and the date of a vote on the extension. He cited “threats of retaliation” against him by other owners in recent weeks, which included reports of possible discipline from suspension to fines to loss of possible draft picks.

The NFL “has undergone unprecedented upheaval in the last two years, including a significant decline in television ratings, increased advertiser discontent, high-profile litigation concerning player suspensions, and decreasing ticket sales,” Jones wrote in the letter, per the Wall Street Journal. “This is not the time for the League to undertake massive contractual obligations which are inconsistent with the League’s performance.”

One of the reasons suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott conceded his legal fight with the NFL was to no longer be a distraction to his teammates and gain a sense of closure.

The team knows he’ll be back for the Dec. 24 game against Seattle and can focus on doing the best it can to stay in the playoff race until he returns, rather than be concerned with another roller-coaster court hearing.

BROWNS: Coach Hue Jackson expects wide receiver Josh Gordon to start practicing next week.

“I do,” Jackson said. “He’s doing well. He’s here in the building every day, on time for everything, involved and big smile on his face. He’s a pleasure to be around.”

Wide receiver Corey Coleman, a speedy former first-round draft pick whose career has been slowed by twice breaking his right hand, will return to the lineup Sunday against Jacksonville.

SAINTS: Coach Sean Payton downplays how dominant New Orleans has looked the past two months, preferring instead to tell his players to tune out the hype and focus on what they still need to fix.

“We talk about realities of today, each week, and the understanding of we’re just past the midway point of the season,” Payton said.

BRONCOS: Unless Denver can regain control of a season skidding out of control, Paxton Lynch could get the starting quarterback job he’s never been able to earn outright.

Ideally, the Broncos would like to head into their offseason knowing if Lynch is a bust or a late-bloomer, although it’s unlikely they’d put the former first-round draft pick out of Memphis into the lineup unless they’re erased from the playoff picture.

In the meantime, Brock Osweiler will get his third straight start when the Broncos try to snap a five-game skid Sunday against the Bengals (3-6), who will be seeking their first win in Denver since 1975.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle’s standout secondary could be without another player Monday night aganst Atlanta. Richard Sherman is done for the season following an Achilles tendon injury, and Seattle is being coy about the status of Kam Chancellor, who suffered a stinger late in a Nov. 9 victory against Arizona.

While Chancellor hasn’t been ruled out of the Atlanta game, he’s still undergoing tests.

WASHINGTON: Quarterback Kirk Cousins said he’s tried to improve his game by studying his New Orleans counterpart, Drew Brees. They’ll meet in a game Sunday.

“I’ve just always admired his career going back to his days at Purdue – the way he has handled adversity, the way he’s carried himself with class, the consistent production year in and year out,” Cousins said of Brees. “He’s just been a consistent force there for the Saints. I love his game and the way he plays, and I’ve been able to learn a lot from him, just from a distance, watching film and studying his game.”

DOLPHINS: Stinging from a humiliating loss to Carolina, defensive coordinator Matt Burke said he’s glad his team lost its scheduled bye this week when a Week 1 game against Tampa Bay was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

“Things happen in mysterious ways, I guess,” Burke said. “Not having the bye week, to me, honestly helps us. If we had to sit two weeks and chew on that for a bye weekend and not play for another two weeks … we can’t wallow in it.”

PACKERS: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ potential return from a broken collarbone took a major step forward this week. But as Rodgers has said all along, there has to be a reason to return.

Rodgers, who is on injured reserve, went through a conditioning session Wednesday that included taking snaps and mimicking the throwing motion with a towel. It was his first time doing anything football-related on the field since suffering the injury Oct. 15 at Minnesota.