The Pittsburgh Steelers look to right the ship tonight against the Houston Texans. While two of their division rivals fell yesterday, the Baltimore Ravens continue to win, and now lead the division at 5-2. Should the Steelers manage to get back in the win column—which would fit their trend—they will be in second play at 4-3.
Pittsburgh has been on the road for two straight games, and for four of their first six games, where their offense has struggled. They’ve only scored 20 points on offense over the last two games, but they return to Heinz Field tonight, where they’ve averaged 27 points per game.
The Steelers will be depending upon some early home cooking to get off to a fast start against the Texans defense. In the season opener, they jumped out to a 27-3 halftime lead. Three weeks later, they put up 17 points in the first half after a rough first two possessions.
The problem is that they only scored 10 points combined in the second halves of those games. In fact, the only game in which the Steelers conducted a successful offensive effort in the second half was in Carolina.
The team’s struggles in the red zone have been well publicized this week, and for good reason, as they rank near the very bottom of the league in terms of converting trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns.
In a small effort to help combat this, it seems we will get our first look at rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who has in the past flashed his ability to snag balls in the end zone, particularly on fades.
Accordingly, it seems that Justin Brown may be the most likely player to lose his helmet as a result, with Darrius Heyward-Bey graduating to become the blocking wide receiver. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.
Of greater importance, however, is the need to establish a rapport between Ben Roethlisberger and his first-year starter, Markus Wheaton, with whom he has had difficulty connecting over the past two games.
The second-year wide out got off to a good start, surpassing the production of his rookie season in his first game, but he and his quarterback have fallen out of sync, to the detriment of the offense, and that needs to be changed soon.
The Steelers continue to run the ball well, but it’s something they had to largely abandon in the last game when they fell behind big in the first half. They worked hard to establish the run last week, but that might not be as much of a priority given the Texans’ front line.
Le’Veon Bell, however, has only gotten into the end zone once this year in four games, even if he continues to rack up 100 yards or more in every game. at some point those yards need to start following a path into the end zone.