PITTSBURGH -- If this were high school football, it would have seemed the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing a junior varsity game Sunday.
The defense was missing three Pro Bowl players in end Aaron Smith (foot), nose tackle Casey Hampton (shoulder) and linebacker James Harrison (eye). Also sitting out was running back Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring), while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was playing with a protective shoe on his sprained left foot.
And the offensive line was so banged up that left tackle Max Starks was signed as a free agent earlier in the week after being released at the start of training camp and wound up starting despite participating in just two practices.
Yet despite the long injury list and patchwork lineup, the Steelers rolled to a 38-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field, capping a week in which the national and local media wondered if the defending AFC champions were on the verge of collapse.
Instead, Pittsburgh improved to 3-2 with its largest margin of victory this season. Tennessee, off to a surprising start under first-year coach Mike Munchak, fell to 3-2.
Roethlisberger threw for five touchdowns in a game for the fourth time in his eight-year career, a week after being injured in a loss at Houston, to lead the way. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 228 yards.
Hines Ward caught two of the four scoring passes for his first multi-touchdown game in two seasons.
Fourth-string running back Jonathan Dwyer helped pick up the slack in the ground game with Mendenhall out as he rushed for 107 yards on 11 carries. It was easily a personal best for Dwyer, who entered the day with just 28 yards in his two-year career.
Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was 27 of 46 for 243 yards.
Pittsburgh made the game lopsided early with Roethlisberger throwing touchdown passes on each of the Steelers' first three drives after Tennessee's Rob Bironas kicked a 29-yard field goal to open the scoring.
The Steelers went 50 yards in 10 plays the first time they touched the ball with Roethlisberger connecting with Heath Miller on an 8-yard score.
Pittsburgh resorted to trickery on its next possession as punter Daniel Supulveda threw a 33-yard pass to reserve defensive back Ryan Mundy on a fake to put the ball at the Titans' 17. That set up Ward's first touchdown reception, a 7-yarder from Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger threw his third touchdown of the half with 6:11 remaining, connecting on a 1-yard toss to reserve tight end David Johnson. That score was set up by a 76-yard run off right tackle.
Pittsburgh stretched the lead to 28-3 with 4:44 left in the third quarter when Roethlisberger and Ward connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass to complete a 71-yard drive.
Tennessee finally got into the end zone on a 1-yard plunge by Chris Johnson two minutes later.
The Titans then recovered an onside kick and at least seemed to have a glimmer of hope despite trailing by 18. However, their ensuing drive ended when linebacker Lawrence Timmons picked off a Hasselbeck pass that was deflected by defensive end Brett Keisel.
The Steelers then added a 19-yard field by Shaun Suisham that made it 31-10 with 10:45 remaining.
Hasselbeck threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Damian Williams with 3:32 remaining to draw Tennessee within 31-17 but Roethlisberger answered 53 seconds later with a 40-yard scoring pass to Mike Wallace.
Game Notes: Pittsburgh RT Marcus Gilbert (left shoulder) and C Maurkice Pouncey (right shoulder) left the game with injuries, adding to the offensive line woes ... Roethlisberger's third touchdown pass was the 150th of his career.