Ouch. Not sure who made the bigger statement: The Texans or the Steelers. On one hand, the Texans played like a winner, methodical on offense, stingy on defense, and enough poise to overcome their mistakes. On the other hand, the Steelers were awful. If yesterday was any indication, the Steelers can't hang with the big teams in the NFL right now. We know the final score was only 17-10, but it was never that close. Houston was totally dominant.
Baltimore's total dominance on defense on national TV makes it even more unsettling. Recap inside.
The Texans elect to receive the kickoff. Danny Manning might have fumbled it, but they end up with a block-in-the-back penalty to set them up at the 5.
Their first play is to run Arian Foster up the middle. The front 7 shuts it down for the last time all afternoon. The Texans keep running. And running. And running. One first down after another.
The opening drive lasts ten minutes and mercifully ends when Schaub fakes out everyone in the universe on play action and Owen Daniels is standing in his own zip code in the end zone. 7-0.
Not quite the run defense we've grown so accustomed to the past few years.
The Steelers' offense finally gets on the field. Mike Wallace makes a big play and yells at a defender afterward. Somehow that's a 15 yard penalty. Dan Dierdorf gets firmly on his high horse talking about stupid football plays.
Ben gets hit and fumbles because I guess he ate buttery popcorn while he was waiting to get on the field. Houston took some penalty though and the Steelers keep the ball. Ben gets drilled a few plays later as he releases the ball. Then he gets sacked for real and they punt. At least the punt gets inside the 5.
Houston's center grabs Casey Hampton by the face and that negates a huge gain. The Texans continue to overcome penalties with one big play after another, but the Steelers make their first stop of the day around midfield and the Texans punt.
The Steelers punt it right back. The Texans take another penalty. Andre Johnson catches a pass and turns up field. He gets the first down and falls over clutching his knee.
James Harrison takes a helmet in the face from an offensive lineman. He goes to the sideline, dizzy. Roger Goodell starts touching himself. The Texans' offense methodically moves down the field until Matt Schaub finally misses a few passes and they settle for a field goal. 10-0.
Antonio Brown misreads a blitz and doesn't adjust to a quick throw. Mike Wallace beats everyone deep but Ben [unsurprisingly] underthrows him. Mewelde Moore breaks off a big run but Maurkice Pouncey takes a penalty after the play for unnecessary roughness. Dierdorf strangely has no problem with that, but Mike Wallace chirping at someone was apparently a bonehead play.
The Steelers hurry to the line on 4th & 1 but the Texans don't bite on the hard count. Suisham's field goal try is blocked. Jonathan Joseph runs it into the end zone, but Dan Manning takes the stupidest penalty of 2011 and slams into Sepulveda from behind on the return. The block-in-the-back nullifies the touchdown and the half ends.
David Johnson catches a ball, which tells you how desperate the offense is. Pressure gets to Ben again after that. And again after that. Marcus Gilbert false starts. Blood Type makes a few catches for a couple first downs. Ben runs for a first down and suddenly he's inside the 5. Mendenhall scores. 10-7. That drive took like 8 minutes.
The defense amazingly forces a 3 and out. Isaac Redman appears for a big run.
He plunges a few more times and grinds out a first down. Mewelde Moore seems like he always has giant holes to run through. James Harrison is shown on the sideline being checked for a conussion or blindness or something.
Shaun Suisham kicks a field goal to make a new game, tied at 10.
Harrison comes back in the game. James Farrior is covering Owen Daniels. Daniels predictably catches a long pass. How did that matchup ever happen? Arian Foster runs away from everyone and off into the end zone. 17-10.
By the way, Foster yells something at the defense after he scores. Why was that a penalty on Wallace? Some DB torpedos Hines Ward in the back when he goes up for a pass. Remember when Ryan Clark got flagged for that against Oakland last year? Just sayin'.
The Texans punt. The Steelers lose like 18 yards on 3 plays and Sepulveda punts from his own end zone. Ben isn't going to make it through the season behind this line.
Five minutes left. The Texans go into grind mode. They do try a deep throw but Keenan Lewis shuts me up and covers it nicely. Probably the bright spot of the game. Blood Type runs the punt back across midfield. The offense promptly goes three and out. They go for it on 4th down and the pass is deflected to the turf.
The Texans take over on downs. They get the clock down to 1:13 before they punt and give Ben Roethlisberger Ben's first pass is a pick six. Called back because JJ Watt drove into Roethlisberger's knee. Wait, does that look familiar?
A few passes later and there are 19 seconds left. Ben's next pass is intercepted deep down the field. Can this game please just end?
The Texans come out in the victory formation. They earned it.
- I give Roethlisberger two more games, tops, before he just breaks apart.
- Speaking of Ben, it is impossible to question his leadership of this team. Every week he stands in the line of fire because his linemen don't get in anyone's way, but Ben is the first to stand up and defend his line in the media.
- The defense is no better than the offense. They can't generate a pass rush and they're suddenly surrendering huge running lanes.
- The Texans are for real. The Steelers might not be.