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Steelers ready to start winning streak at Titans

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Steelers ready to start winning streak at Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers may have picked the right place to start winning on the road when they visit the punchless Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.

The Steelers (2-2) have two home wins and two road losses, and with running back Rashard Mendenhall back in the lineup to complement Ben Roethlisberger, they hope to pound away at a defense that has allowed more points than any other team in the league.

``If we are going to be a competitive type of team, the type of team we aspire to be, you have to go into hostile environments and do the job,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. ``We haven't done that. Thursday night in Nashville, we anticipate it to be hostile. We anticipate a certain level of urgency coming from these guys.''

Urgency may be putting it mildly. The Titans (1-4) come into the game off a 30-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, a game in which quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was ineffective replacing the injured Jake Locker and Chris Johnson was held in check with 24 yards on 15 rushes.

Even with safety Troy Polamalu missing his third game with a strained right calf and linebacker LaMarr Woodley possibly out with a strained right hamstring, the Steelers are looking to begin a winning streak.

``We've just got to play good football,'' Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor said. ``We're 0-2 on the road, that's what the resume says about our 2012 season.''

Ryan Mundy is expected to replace Polamalu again, though Will Allen might get more playing time. Linebacker James Harrison returned last week from a left knee injury. And through the injuries, the Steelers are still fifth in the NFL, allowing 280 yards a game.

The Titans, meanwhile, are 30th in rushing at 65.4 yards a game, and Johnson added to his struggles by losing a fumble in last week's loss. The former 2,000-yard rusher is averaging all of 2.9 yards per carry with 210 yards and no touchdowns.

Hasselbeck is starting his second straight game with Locker sidelined with a dislocated left shoulder. The good news is receiver Kenny Britt is healthy, and has practiced the past couple days. He is returning from a torn right knee ligament last season followed by a sprained left ankle last month.

The Titans are ready to get back on the field early after last week's loss.

``Having no time to really harp on all the stuff the last couple weeks, it's good,'' Titans left tackle Michael Roos said. ``It's going to be a physical fight. Everyone here's played against them before in the offensive line. You know what's coming. Just get ready for it.''

The Steelers have dominated this series between the former AFC Central rivals, winning three straight and six of their last nine with Tennessee.

Having Mendenhall back after a knee injury in January should help. He debuted against Philadelphia and averaged 5.8 yards a carry.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,111 yards with nine touchdowns and only one interception, and he has been fine on the road, too, with six TD passes and his only interception. Roethlisberger is a big reason the Steelers convert an NFL-best 53.2 percent of their third downs, and now he gets to face a defense giving up an NFL-worst 36.2 points per game.

``I don't think that their defense is an indication of their record,'' Roethlisberger said. ``I think they're a lot better than that. We have to prepare accordingly, because I think they are a good defense.''

The Titans have gotten little help from the offense. Tennessee trailed 14-7 at halftime before losing 38-14 in Houston, and 13-0 at halftime in Minnesota.

``It all comes down to one simple thing,'' Johnson said. ``We're not making plays. We're not staying on the field, not sustaining drives. And at the end of the day, no matter how good our defense does ... they can't keep going out there and making plays when we keep leaving them on the field like that. We have to do our job as an offense.''

The Steelers routed Tennessee 38-17 last season in Pittsburgh and forced seven turnovers in their last trip to Nashville in a win in 2010.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he knows from experience the Steelers likely will have 30,000 fans in the stands. Needing a win playing Pittsburgh is never easy.

``It's been a couple of weeks, and it's been two long weeks,'' Munchak said. ``Hopefully this week will change that.''

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS