The Pittsburgh Steelers looked to be collapsing once again in primetime, quickly dropping to a 13-0 deficit after allowing the Houston Texans to score on their first three possessions. The Steelers stormed back at the end of the quarter, however, beginning with a 35-yard strike to rookie Martavis Bryant. After a fumble and an interception, Pittsburgh added another two touchdowns on a three-yard pass from Antonio Brown to Lance Moore and a two-yarder from Ben Roethlisberger to Le’Veon Bell, who has 91 receiving yards. The Texans get the ball to start the second half, but now have a 24-13 deficit to climb back from.
The Texans got a scare on their opening return as Robert Golden stripped the ball loose, but the runner’s knee was down. On the first play, Ryan Fitzpatrick found his tight end ahead of Sean Spence for nine yards. Spence, however, stuck Arian Foster on second down for no gain. On third and one, he was stopped once again, and the Texans punted. Antonio Brown returned the punt 12 yards to the 34.
Bell spun out of a tackle at the line of scrimmage on first down for five yards. Roethlisberger checked down to Bell on second down, who fought his way for a few to set up third and short. On third and two, LeGarrette Blount spun out of a tackle after a catch to move the chains, with Bell out wide. Bell pitched back to Roethlisberger for a flea flicker down the middle deep to Brown, but the ball fell incomplete. On second down, Dri Archer tripped up a bit but kicked on the jets for nine yards to make it third and one. Blount was tripped up just an inch shy of the first down at the 40-yard line. Roethlisberger attempted to draw the Texans offside, but they held, and the Steelers punted. Brad Wing‘s punt was downed at the seven.
Fitzpatrick found DeAndre Hopkins on first down for 20 yards. On the next play, Foster found some room for about six yards. On second and four, Jason Worilds rode him down a yard shy of the first down. The third and short carry was stopped as Foster slipped looking toward the right end. The Texans ran a fake on fourth down, however, with Alfred Blue plunging ahead for the first down.
Fitzpatrick hooked up with Hopkins again for another first down to cross midfield. From the 45, William Gay was there to tackle the Hopkins catch after five yards. On second down, after a false start, the quarterback took off after pressure for a short gain to set up third and six. Fitzpatrick hit his tight end, but he could not hold on to the ball with Brice McCain there to disrupt. The punt was pinned down at the one-yard line.
On first down, Roethlisberger threw a quick hitter to Brown for a three-yard gain to provide some breathing room to the four. On second and seven, Blount was caught for a false start by his quarterback’s hard count. Roethlisberger showed great effort to track a deep ball in tight coverage down the field, though it fell incomplete. On third and nine, Darrius Heyward-Bey came up with the catch to move the chains.
Blount got the ball after the first down, picking up close to five yards up the middle. Brown was good for six yards to get another first down. The Steelers ran Blount up the right side for a short gain. On second and eight, Archer was wrangled in the backfield for a loss. Kelvin Beachum was slow to get up. Ramon Foster moved to right tackle while Mike Adams shifted to left tackle. Cody Wallace entered at left guard. The quarter ended without a play being run, however, so Beachum was allowed to return to the game without missing a snap. Roethlisberger found Moore, but he came up just short of a first down. Wing’s punt was poor, and downed only at the 25.
Fitzpatrick’s first pass was in traffic and incomplete to Andre Johnson. On second down, Cortez Allen was flagged late for pass interference against Johnson for about 12 yards. They went back to Johnson in front of Allen, who came up with the catch at the 40. Foster was good for a few on first down. Fitzpatrick was incomplete on second down. On third and seven, Johnson found a soft spot in the zone and sat down at the 20, getting down to the 15.
After a two-yard gain on first down, Fitzpatrick threw too long for Johnson in the right front corner of the end zone. On third and eight from the 13, his crosser to Damaris Johnson was incomplete. A field goal made it a one-possession game at 24-16.
Bell got things started with a six-yard run on first down. Roethlisberger pump faked a screen to Brown and then came back at him, but the receiver was upfield already and the ball fell incomplete. On third and four, the Texans were penalized for 12 men on the field, giving the Steelers a free first down.
Bell found some room on the ground for the first time in the game up the left side to the 49. Blount added a few more across midfield on first down. He was stifled for a loss of four on second down, however. On third and 10, back to the 49, Roethlisberger found his tight end short of the first down, but the Texans were called for holding. Roethlisberger ripped a deep one to Brown inside the 2o, but the Texans are challenging. The ruling on the field stood, good for a 30-yard catch. Roethlisberger went right back to Brown on the next play in the end zone, who hauled it in for his sixth touchdown reception of the season. The play was reviewed, however, and overturned, questionably in my opinion.
On second down from the 16, Roethlisberger barely escaped a sack by giving it to Bell, who was tackled for a six-yard loss. On third and 16, Brown fought his way down to within a yard of the first down. Shaun Suisham made it a two-possession game with a field goal, making it 27-16.
With less than six minutes to play, the Texans began their drive with a six-yard pass to Foster. On second down,, Fitzpatrick found Hopkins at centerfield, but he lost the ball, and Troy Polamalu recovered, with Mike Mitchell stripping the ball loose.
Bell took the ball on first down up the middle for six yards. A quick hitter to Brown moved the chains. A stiff arm from Bell got him past the line of scrimmage on first down, but not much further. Roethlisberger went deep to Bryant on second down, but his pass fell out of bounds. On third and nine, Bryant caught a short pass to move within more comfortable field goal range. Suisham banged it home to give the Steelers a 30-16 lead.
Fitzpatrick scrambled on first down with under three minutes to play for six yards. On second down from the 20, he found Johnson at the sideline to get out of bounds, but James Harrison was penalized for roughing the passer, adding another 15 yards to the end of the play. After hitting his tight end up the middle, the Texans quickly got inside the 20 at the two-minute warning.
Allen defended the pass well to Johnson at the end zone on first down from the 17. Hopkins was just short of the goal line on second down, with Polamalu, naturally, jumping over the line. He was penalized, making it half the distance to the goal. With 1:35, Fitzpatrick found Foster for the score to make it a seven-point game at 30-23.
The Texans were forced to attempt the onside kick with no timeouts remaining. The Steelers muffed the recovery attempt as the ball bounced all the way back to the 36, but Michael Palmer ultimately recovered to secure the win.