Once more, a loss is followed by a win for the Pittsburgh Steelers, beating the Houston Texans 30-23 despite falling behind early. The turnovers from Ryan Fitzpatrick and others provided the biggest boost, while Ben Roethlisberger, finally getting some decent protection, along with the very effective Le’Veon Bell, pulled them through towards victory.
Last week the Texans had the game slip away from them early on and a late comeback wasn’t enough? This time they raced to a 13-0 lead before turning the ball over on consecutive snaps, giving up 24 consecutive points to end the second quarter and fall behind too far and deep to be able to climb out of their hole, falling to a 3-4 record, putting them two games behind the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South.
Ben Roethlisberger was sacked three times, but the second half went swimmingly for him, as it looked like the Texans wasted all of their offensive and defensive ammunition too early in the game. Roethlisberger threw for 265 yards including two touchdown passes to Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell. Antonio Brown threw a touchdown pass as well on a nice trick play, finding Lance Moore for the touchdown.
Le’Veon Bell continues to be the most consistent and solid piece of the Steelers’ offense, rushing for 57 yards and catching 8 passes for 88 yards. It was his seventh consecutive game since the start of this season with 100 yards or more from scrimmage, the first player to reach that mark in franchise history. Despite not really getting anything rolling on the ground, Roethlisberger did very well by not seeing added pressure on him for most of the game.
The Texans don’t trust their secondary, which took out the best aspect of their defense. J.J. Watt did get a sack, knocked down Roethlibserger two more times and recover a fumble, but was completely invisible during the second half of the game, as the Texans made limited pass rushed while the Steelers made excellent adjustments. Roethlisberger was 13-of-15 for 189 yards and a touchdown when the pass rush was consisting of four players or less, his best performance this season against standard pressure.
Arian Foster peaked past 100 again, rushing for 102 yards, but only 29 of them came after the first quarter. The Texans turned the ball over three times, including a fumble by Foster and DeAndre Hopkins while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw his traditional interception. Last year the turnovers were the big problem for this team. Quarterbacks, head coaches and others have changed, but the issue of giving up easy points remains.
The way the AFC North is shaping out to be, there’s no elite team but there’s also no one much worse than the others. Overall, the Steelers are in decent shape, but that won’t matter if they can’t get more consistency from their offensive line and defense. Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown are doing some remarkable things offensively, but it won’t count up to much without fixing issues that have been dragging this team down for over two seasons.