In what was arguably one of the most dominating halves by the Steelers all season, they had 203 total yards to the Texans 108. Big Ben threw for 149 yards and a touchdown and Le’Veon Bell accounted for 75 total yards. Martavis Bryant also caught 3 passes for 60 yards. Cam Heyward and Mike Hilton sacked Yates two times each and the defense forced two turnovers.
The big difference in the first half was discipline as the Steelers had only one penalty for 5 yards and the Texans got called for 4 penalties resulting in 59 yards. Another big story line to look at is time of possession. The Steelers possessed the ball for 17:54 to the Texans 12:06. The Texans will get the ball to start the second half.
The Steelers have often been caught playing down to their competition on the road, but today, for the most part, they have looked focused, prepared and ready to go.
Boswell kicks it to the back of the end zone. Touchback. Yates is in concussion protocol and Heinicke will start the half at QB. Heinicke completes his first career pass to Fuller for a first down on 3rd and 4. The Texans are moving the ball well to start the half by relying on the running game. To this point in the game, they are averaging 8.0 yards per rush. Houston has the ball at the Steelers 46. Heinicke scrambles on 2nd down and Vince Williams holds him for a 2 yard gain. Williams slow to get up on the play, but seems to be okay.
Mike Hilton shoots out of a cannon on the nickel blitz and gets his 3rd sack of the day on third down. Eli Rogers has a nice 15 yard return on the 38 yard Lechler punt. Steelers set up shop at their own 36. After two short running plays, Ben overthrows Rogers on 3rd and 3. Berry comes out and boots a 47 yard punt to the 10 yard line where Miller calls a fair catch.
T.J. Yates is back in for the Texans at QB to start the drive. Vince Williams is back in after being shaken up earlier. The Texans go 3-and-out as Fuller drops the short pass on 3rd and 3. Artie Burns was covering him.
Lechler punts to the Steelers 31, but Rogers with another great return for 27 yards to Houston’s 42. This is great to see as the Steelers have not had a good return game all season long. On 2nd and 12, an end around to Bryant goes for an 8 yard rush. Big Ben finds JuJu on 3rd and 4 for a Pittsburgh Steelers first down.
It is interesting to see Ridley get his third carry of the game on that 1st down play while Toussaint has none. After a timeout on 3rd and 7, Ben gets sacked, but Jadeveon Clowney grabbed his facemask and it will be a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down. Steelers have 1st and 10 from the Texans’ 12 yard line. Le’Veon Bell gets the call on 1st down and runs it up the middle into the end zone. Great blocking by the offensive line on that play and Pittsburgh now leads Houston, 27-0.
Another touchback after the touchdown. Texans start at their own 25. Lamar Miller starts the drive with a 16 yard run. Run defense having some problems tonight thus far. Following that play, DeAndre Hopkins catches his first pass of the day for 38 yards. That brings us to the end of the 3rd quarter. Texans will start at the Steelers 20 yard line to start the 4th. A 2nd down play is a screen to Miller and ends in a 10 yard pickup for a first down. After a short Miller run, Haden is called for defensive holding in the end zone. The Texans will have 1st and goal from the 3. On the 1st down play, Hopkins makes a circus catch in the back corner of the end zone. Houston gets their first points of the game. Joe Haden blocks the extra point, but jumped offsides and the Texans will put the offense on the field to go for 2.
The two point conversion is no good. Vince Williams gets called for taunting after the play and that penalty will be enforced on the kickoff. 27-6, Steelers.
The Texans attempt a pooch kick, but Xavier Grimble catches it and takes a knee at the 21 yard line.
Brandon Dunn gets called for encroachment on 2nd and 6. After the penalty, Ben goes deep to JuJu for 49 yards to Houston’s 21. After a couple short gains, Big Ben finds JuJu in the end zone for a 17 yard touchdown. That drive was all about the Roethlisberger to Smith-Schuster connection. Steelers go up 34-6 after the Boswell extra point.
The Texans drive starts with a run to Blue for no gain after a touchback on the kickoff. Hopkins catches a pass from Yates for 13 yards on the following play. Shortly after a Sean Spence sack on 1st down, Hopkins catches another ball and runs for 11 yards. The Steelers get after Yates on 3rd and 3 and cause him to throw the pigskin away. Lechler coming out to punt.
The Steelers now have 6 sacks on the day after that last drive. Landry Jones will come in to take over the offense as the Steelers begin this drive at their own 13. Several backups are checking in now. Chris Hubbard, Matt Fieler, Xavier Grimble, DHB and Nix have all stepped onto the field for this drive. They go three and out, and Berry punts for the third time tonight. Houston will take over at their own 32.
T.J. Watt being checked out in the trainer’s tent after getting injured on punt coverage.
The Steelers get after Yates again on 1st down. Tuitt credited with the sack. Watt checks back in and on following play, disrupts the screen pass, batting it down. On 3rd down, Yates looks for Stephen Anderson, but the pass is incomplete.
Lechler punts and Rogers returns it to the Steelers 25 yard line for a 21 yard return. An illegal shift on Houston gives the Steelers an extra 5 yards. 1st and 10 from the 30. A 4 yard Ridley run leads us to the 2 minute warning in Houston.
Ridley runs for 7 yards and a first down and the Texans do not call a timeout. Steelers set up in victory formation.
The Steelers come away with a dominating 34-6 win in Houston. The defense did exactly what they should against an inexperienced quarterback and the offense was clicking on all cylinders without Antonio Brown. Special teams came to play as well with Berry averaging 47.7 yards per punt, Boswell going 2/2 on fields goals and 4/4 on extra points, and Eli Rogers averaging 16.4 yards per punt return. The Steelers clinch a first round bye in the playoffs with this win. They still have a chance to get the #1 overall seed if the Patriots lose to the Jets and the Steelers beat the Browns next week.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Steelers Depot!