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Insider Only HOU – PIT POST GAME: Long-term Concerns mount over O-line, Steelers run D & lack of pressure on QB

Houston 17 – Pittsburgh 10

Steelers – Texans Summary: Texans RB Arian Foster ran all over the Steelers, rushing for 155 yards and the game winning touchdown, a 42-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, leading the Houston Texans to a 17-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Texans improved to 3-1, while Pittsburgh fell to 2-2 on the year and 1-2 on the road.
Foster gashed the Steelers, most notably in first half, rushing for 94 yards on 19 carries in the first half, leading the Texans on a 19-play – 95-yard opening scoring drive, that counted for a total of 115 yards due to penalties.
The Texans had 8 rushing first downs in the half and 9 overall in the game.
In the second half, Foster rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries, as the Steelers held Foster to 19 yards on 10 of Foster’s 11 carries in the half.
Texans QB Matt Schaub (14/21, 136 Yards, 1 TD) threw a touchdown pass to Owen Daniels on the Texans opening drive as the Texans overcame the loss of star wide receiver Andre Johnson, who left in the second quarter with a right hamstring injury and did not return to the game.
The Texans dominated the first half, out gaining the Steelers 216-to-42 and holding a 21:32 to 5:55 time of possession advantage over the Steelers with 3:13 remaining in the second quarter.
Pittsburgh drove down the field on their final possession of the half, highlighted by a 40-yard third down reception by Mike Wallace (4 REC – 77 Yards).
Pittsburgh though had to settle for a field goal that was blocked and returned for a touchdown. The touchdown was called back after a push in the back by Daniel Manning and the Texans went into the half with a 10-0 lead after what should have been a 17-0 lead.
Houston had 8 penalties for 64 yards in the first half, keeping the Steelers in the game.
Pittsburgh came out in the third quarter and tilted the game, leading an opening third quarter, 13-play – 74 yard scoring drive on a three yard Rashard Mendenhall touchdown run. Pittsburgh held Houston to 2 yards in the third quarter and tied the game at 10-10, with a 26 yard field goal by Shaun Suisham at the 14:57 mark of the 4th quarter.
At 10-10, the Texans and Arian Foster responded, capped by his 42 yard touchdown run, which was Foster’s and the Houston Texans only big play offensively of the second half.
Offensively, the Steelers couldn’t mount a comeback as Ben Roethlisberger was under pressure all day and was sacked five times behind arguably the leagues worst offensive line. Roethlisberger suffered a sprained foot in the loss and left the stadium on crutches. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday.
 The Steelers also lost running back Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring), linebackers James Harrison (eye), Jason Worilds (quad) and defensive end Aaron Smith (foot) to injuries during the game. Harrison returned.
Pittsburgh hosts the 3-1 Tennessee Titans next Sunday at Heinz Field.

Post-Game Observations & Buzz

*There is always a notion that no matter what type of offensive line the Steelers have, they always seem to find a way to get it done, as many pundits point to the 2008 and 2010 Super Bowl runs. That scenario is coming to an end.
A big difference from those years is the tackle play. In 2008, the Steelers had Max Starks and Willie Colon anchoring the tackles, last year they had Flozell Adams.
The tackle position is so bad this season that Ben Roethlisberger is not going to survive through the entire season and the O-line failed the Steelers today. They put together a couple nice drives in the third quarter but week in and week out, there is such a mismatch on the edge, that throughout an entire game, the Steelers just can’t combat it. Week 1 it was Terrell Suggs, last week it was Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, today it was Mario Williams.
On several plays, Roethlisberger had no chance as the Texans did a great job at moving Williams around, getting him matched up with the rookie Marcus Gilbert.
Roethlisberger as mentioned above, left the stadium on crutches in a walking boot with what head coach Mike Tomlin called a sprained foot.
*The running game got going when Rashard Mendenhall (9 CAR – 25 YDS – 1 TD) was out of the game. Why? Just like last week, it’s because Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore were running with power and right at the opposition.

Redman had 6 carries for 40 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Moore had 34 yards on 4 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per rush. Moore was strong for a second straight week and he’s deserving of more playing time.
*Mike Wallace 100-yard receiving streak came to an end. He had 4 receptions for 77 yards and did his part as he was ONLY TARGETED 4 TIMES.
By comparison, Antonio Brown who made some tough grabs but also ran some bad routes/reads on blitzes, was targeted 10 times and had 5 receptions for 67 yards, including a long of 23.
*The Steelers turnover margin is now minus-10 after Roethlisberger’s game ending interception in the waning seconds.
*Roethlisberger averaged 5.9 yards per attempt, well down from his career mark of over 8 yards.
Big…Big… Concerns continue to mount for the Steelers defense. For the third time this season, they showed the inability to stop the run. The Texans ran at the Steelers and didn’t go away from it.
Pittsburgh made some adjustments in the second half but were still gashed for the game winning score, a 42 yard Arian Foster TD run.
The D-Line continues to be a major weakness against the run but the Steelers are also getting nothing from linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior.
This a defense dictated by their front-seven, Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Ziggy Hood have been poor against the run, while Woodley and Farrior are having awful seasons.
Early on, the Texans ran right at Aaron Smith and LaMarr Woodley, getting big plays from Foster and Tate to the Texans right side. Smith was unable to get off blocks and the same for Woodley who wiffed on several plays.
As the game wore on, Smith got better, making some big stops but Woodley remains out of sync.
Troy Polamalu is taking some heat for a missed tackle on Foster’s 42 yard TD run but it was Woodley who took a horrible angle and had the first crack on him.
Those type of misses from Woodley have been the norm through four games.
The Steelers run D was expolited on stretch plays and mis-direction runs. We also saw how good Arian Foster is, but still big concerns for the Steelers in that area through four games.
*As good as the Texans offensive line is, what was stunning is how the Steelers rarely got any pressure to Matt Schaub. That’s also becoming the norm for the Steelers.
*Teams getting a tight end matched up against James Farrior remains an area to attack the Steelers.
*A ball hawking defense last season, Pittsburgh has one takeaway at the quarter mark. A big reason for that number being so low is the lack of pressure the Steelers are getting to the quarterback and of course no playmakers in the secondary, other than Polamalu.
*Improvement in secondary? The loss of Andre Johnson limited the Texans big play ability in the passing game but overall the Steelers secondary played well. Keenan Lewis made some plays and Troy Polamalu continues to be a force, leading the Steelers with 9 tackles.
Special Teams
*Antonio Brown had a 33 yard punt return, setting the Steelers up with the ball at the Houston 48 with 3:33 remaining in the 4th quarter. Brown has made great improvement from last season in the return game, and had 77 return yards in the game.
*Punter Daniel Sepulveda continued his strong start to the season, averaging 50.5 yards per punt (4 Punts – 202 YDS), including a long of 58.
*Kicker Shaun Suisham was 1 of 2 from field goal range, including a blocked field at the end of the 2nd quarter that was returned for a touchdown but called back.
What’s On Tap: The 3-1 Tennessee Titans come to town in what will be a much tougher matchup than anyone envisioned months ago when the schedule came out. The Titans who were thought to be in rebuilding mode, are thriving under quarterback Matt Hasselback.
The Steelers could go into the game without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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