The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to get back in the win column tonight against the Houston Texans. They’ve been bouncing back and forth between victory and defeat, unable to stack wins or losses. They are hoping to avoid stacking losses at home.
As has often been the case, the Steelers began the game on offense. Ben Roethlisberger bluffed a handoff to Le’Veon Bell but kept it himself on a read by the quarterback, gaining five yards on the play. Roethlisberger’s first pass attempt on second down was deflected, intended for Antonio Brown. On third and five, Bell did a nice job of standing tough at the 30 to hold on to the ball with a defensive back quickly closing in, moving the chains.
Bell got his first carry of the game after the first down, picking up close to four yards on the play. Roethlisberger barely got the ball out as he was hit, but he found Bell, who made a tackler miss at the line of scrimmage and picked up 10 yards. Back to Bell, he slipped through a tiny crease on the ground for about two yards. On second and long, Roethlisberger took a deep shot to the rookie Martavis Bryant, but the ball was delivered a bit too far. Now third and long at the 46, Markus Wheaton was the target, but the ball was wide. The defender seemed to have gotten away with a hold. Brad Wing‘s punt was downed well inside the 10-yard line on a 48-yard punt.
The Steelers chose to start Brett Keisel at right defensive end, moving Cameron Heyward to the left side. The play went up Heyward’s gut, which went for three yards. On second down from the nine, Arian Foster was bottled up after one yard after escaping a crowd to the left with Lawrence Timmons hassling him. On third and long, Jason Worilds nearly sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the quarterback escaped and found Damaris Johnson for the first down at the 25.
Foster spun through a Timmons tackle attempt, bouncing off Mike Mitchell for 11 yards on first down. On the following play, Worilds pressured Fitzpatrick again, forcing him to vacate the pocket. He took off up the middle for a yard. On second and long, Foster got to the edge for another first down. James Harrison entered the game and made the tackle on Foster on his first play in on a three-yard gain. William Gay made the tackle on Andre Johnson after a short gain to set up third and three. The Steelers defended the line on the play, but Foster escaped a Sean Spence tackle and got into the open field for a big gain.
From the 11, Fitzpatrick found runnning back Alfred Blue right up the middle for the touchdown pass to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.
After yet another touchback, Bell got the first two touches on the drive for a total of four yards, setting up third and five. On the play, Roethlisberger bought lots of time and hit Brown for the first down, in spite of a holding penalty on the Texans defense. From the 37, Ben rolled out and hit Brown on the move, who dragged a tackler a yard or two for nine yards.
Bell slithered through the middle for about four yards and a new set of downs, but he was hit for a loss of a few on the following play. On second and 13, Roethlisberger threw it to Bell, but the safety did a good job of getting the back down, setting up a third and nine. Roethlisberger tried to work out of a sack on the play, but he lost the ball, and the Texans recovered.
Taking over at the Steelers’ 46, Fitzpatrick took a shot deep to Johnson, but it was incomplete. Harrison remained in the game from the previous drive. On second down, Foster picked up five yards off right guard. On third and five, the quarterback found his tight end in front of Spence for the first down.
Foster looked to be bottled up on the following play, but he bounced the run to the outside for nine yards. Blue easily converted on the next play. Daniel McCullers was in on the second down play. Arthur Moats back in, he managed to chase the back down from the back side for a short gain. On second down and 10, Moats was in on the tackle again for a short gain. Now third and long, Fitzpatrick was under pressure, throwing the ball to Foster, but it was incomplete. The Texans extended their lead to 10-0 on a field goal.
Dri Archer was given a returnable kick, with which he naturally only reached the 16-yard line. On first down, LeGarrette Blount was hammered at the line of scrimmage for no gain. He tried to cut on the next play, but fell to the ground after a short gain. On third and eight, Roethlisberger took a shot to Wheaton that went out of bounds, resulting in another punt. Wing booted it down to the 29, where he was tackled on the spot by Antwon Blake after a 53-yard punt.
Heyward tackled Foster on first down after four yards. On second and six, DeAndre Hopkins stopped short in front of Cortez Allen to come up for the ball down to the Steelers’ 44. The defense managed to run Foster out of bounds for a loss on the following play. On second down, Keshawn Martin‘s reception was good for five. On third and six, in an empty set, Fitzpatrick took off and ran, almost getting enough for the first down after Harrison lost contain. On fourth and inches, with McCullers in the middle, Foster cut left and burst through a crease for 11 yards.
Spence tackle Blue on first down after a short gain. Brice McCain had good coverage to wall off Hopkins on a deep ball on second down. Timmons had to tap out, unable to handle the pace. Vince Williams replaced him. On third and nine, Williams made the stop to force another field goal as the Texans went up 13-0.
Marcus Gilbert left the game to be evaluated for a concussion, giving Mike Adams his first snaps of the season. Blount was tackled on the kick return at the 14-yard line. On first down, Roethlisberger pump faked a wide receiver screen, buying time to allow J.J. Watt to hammer him for the sack. Now second and 19 at the five, Brown picked up about four yards on a screen pass. Roethlisberger got a free play on an offsides, and his pass was deflected. On third and 10, the quarterback found Bell on the run, who picked up 43 yards to give the offense a much needed jolt of life.
Across midfield for the first time, Roethlisberger found Heath Miller for a first down. Bell found room up the middle for about five yards on the play after. On second and five, Roethlisberger threw low to Will Johnson. Roethlisberger was sacked on third down. Shaun Suisham was good from 44 yards, making the score 13-3.
After a short carry on first down, Timmons came around the left edge and chased Fitzpatrick down for the Steelers’ first sack of the game, and his first non-tackle stat this season, as the two-minute warning hit. On third and nine, the Steelers brought the pressure and forced an incompletion, giving Pittsburgh a chance to score before halftime.
Taking over at the 37, Maurkice Pouncey led Bell on a screen for a big gain, giving him 89 receiving yards for the game. Roethlisberger wound up and launched a 35-yarder to the back of the end zone for the rookie Bryant, who hauled it in for his first reception, and touchdown, for his career, bringing the score to 13-10.
The Texans’ returner muffed the return and was buried by a sea of Steelers at the four-yard line with 1:22 to play. Heyward dragged Foster down after a one-yard gain and the Steelers used their second timeout. On second and nine, Worilds brought Foster down for a loss as the Steelers used their final timeout to set up third and 11 with 1:10 to play. The boot reviewed the play and determined that Foster fumbled, with Worilds recovering at the three-yard line. They also got their timeout back. Sweet.
On first and goal, Roethlisberger pitched the ball to Brown, who turned upfield and threw the ball to Lance Moore for the touchdown. The Steelers seized a 17-13 lead with 1:03 to go in the first half. On the first play, Worilds pressured the quarterback, whose pass was tipped by Keisel. The ball bounced off the receiver and back to Keisel for the interception, returning it to the eight-yard line. Bryant got the ball on first down down to the two. On second and goal, Bell flushed out wide, peeled out to the corner, and reached behind him to grab the ball for his first receiving touchdown in his career. The Steelers now took a 24-13 lead.