When the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Houston Texans Monday night at Heinz Field, they’ll face a defense that has done a good job at not giving up the explosive play through their first six games.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Texans defense has only allowed 18 plays of 20 yards or longer so far this season and that currently has the tied for the lead league in that stat heading into Week 7 with the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. That number needs and asterisk besides it, perhaps, as seven of those 18 plays have gone for 40 yards or more. In fact, the Texans are last in the league when it comes to average length of explosive plays allowed as those 18 plays on average have gained 37.28 yards.
As a team, the Steelers offense has managed to register 26 explosive plays so far this season. One of those, however, came on a fake punt. Of the remaining 25, wide receiver Antonio Brown is responsible for 11 of them and running back Le’Veon Bell is a distant second on the team with six such plays that have gone for 20 yards or more.
The Steelers intend on dressing rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant for the first time Monday night against the Texans, so perhaps he will get a few opportunities to stretch the field outside of the 20 yard-lines. Of the 42 passes that Bryant caught during his final year at Clemson, 27 of them went for 15 yards or more while 12 resulted in 25 or more yards gained.
Explosive plays and turnovers are likely to determine the outcome of this game Monday night, so it’s important that the Steelers offense is able to hit up the Texans defense for yards in chunks.