Season kicked off right in Steel City

PITTSBURGH — I’m not sure you could fit more into one day. It was a success for some and a disappointment for others, but no matter how you cut it, NFL’s Kickoff 2009 certainly was entertaining.

We, being the collective fandom in Pittsburgh today, had the chance to watch back-to-back concerts by Tim McGraw and the Black Eyed Peas. It was two-plus hours of music with around 50,000 close friends. And that was before heading across the river for an overtime game between what looks like two of the AFC’s best teams in front of the largest regular-season crowd in team history.

Before exiting, I’m going to leave you with a few notes from the locker rooms:

  • The Titans didn’t have much of an answer for the no-huddle offense used by the Steelers in the fourth quarter and overtime. Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said the team goes over the no-huddle during walk-through work Thursday, Friday and Saturday and has more than 100 plays in the package for QB Ben Roethlisberger. Titans LB Keith Bulluck said the no-huddle didn’t present problems and that the defense was able to substitute freely, but he believed the difference was in execution. The Steelers executed, and the Titans didn’t.
  • Steelers RB Willie Parker had been slowed by a hamstring injury throughout the preseason, and he finished tonight’s game with 19 yards on 13 carries. At this point, Parker isn’t completely healthy but good enough to play.
  • The name you might hear a lot in Troy Polamalu‘s absence is Tyrone Carter. The 10th-year veteran backup safety, now in his sixth season in Pittsburgh, knows the system as well as anyone and is the presumed replacement for Polamalu, who could be out 3-6 weeks with a knee injury. Carter, who said the coaching staff doesn’t make any changes when he’s in the game, admitted the one thing the Steelers would miss are Polamalu’s big plays.
  • There was a definite feeling in the Titans’ locker room that they were the better team tonight. Titans RB Chris Johnson didn’t hide his thoughts when asked if the better team won, saying, “No, I know that the better team didn’t win. Not at all.” A teammate echoed those thoughts, saying the Titans were the better team but left too many plays on the field.

— Frank Tadych

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