With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming off a close win against a Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts, I don't know if anyone had any idea how a game against the Houston Texans was going to turn out. That the first half were to end with a blocked field goal attempt ran back into the endzone, nullified by a pointless block to the back penalty, well ... that pretty much summed things up.
It was all Texans the first half, and they should have ended the half 17-0 instead of 10-0 if it weren't for that ridiculous penalty. The Steelers were able to stay in it thanks to a few penalties against the Texans. The Texans simply dominated the first half, keeping possession of the ball for more than 21 minutes. And the 95-yard touchdown drive that opened the game pretty much set the momentum for the rest of the half. An illegal contact call kept the Steelers' first drive going, after Connor Barwin caused Ben Roethlisberger to fumble the ball. The penalties were pretty much the only thing that could have been held against the Texans in that first half. What a difference Arian Foster makes.
He rushed 30 times for 155 yards and a TD, by the way.
The Steelers seemed to get a little bit of momentum back in the second half after that lucky break with the missed field goal. The Steelers defense was able to take advantage when Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson left the game in the second quarter with a right hamstring injury. And the offense scored on the opening drive of the second half, with Rashard Mendenhall running it in, capping off a 74-yard drive. The Texans were out-gained 139 yards to 2 in the third quarter.
Of course the Texans came rolling back, capping off a drive with Arian Foster cutting back to the weak side, resulting in a 42-yard touchdown run. That gave the Texans a 17-10 lead, the biggest run against the Steelers in something like 150 years (okay, more like since 2006). He was able to avoid tackles by LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu, and that's the score at which the game would end.
It was a torturous last few minutes of the game for Steelers fans, with the defense able to contain Arian Foster and the Texan offense, yet the Steelers offense not able to score and capitalize on those opportunities. Troy Polamalu was playing like he had something to prove, but Ben couldn't produce a game-winning drive. He was sacked all day long, and deep into his own endzone, it looked like he threw what would have been a game-ending interception. But it was called back with yet another penalty due to a low hit. So, it was only fitting that he end the game with a penalty-free interception in a last-second attempt to throw the ball down the field to Antonio Brown. Ben went 16 for 30 for 206 yards and that 1 INT, while Texans quarterback Matt Schaub did what he had to do on top of Foster's explosive running game, going 14 for 21 for 138 yards and a TD.
And in even worse news for the Steelers: Three key starters left the game with injuries, Mendenhall, linebacker James Harrison, and defensive end Aaron Smith. So, yeah. That's exactly what the Steelers need. More injuries.
Without those penalties, the Texans would have probably won this game by at least 14+ more points. The Steelers just aren't playing good football, and it doesn't bode well for the rest of the season. Even against a team that's known for having difficult second halves, the Steelers just couldn't get anything going when it counted. They play the Tennessee Titans next week, and who knows how that's going to go. It's going to be an incredibly long season.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more