It was supposed to be just the offensive line that was going to have trouble against a poor defense but Sunday the defensive line had just as much trouble. With neither holding up the Steelers suffered their second defeat 17-10 to the Houston Texans and now must get back on track against a much improved Tennessee Titans team this weekend at Heinz field.
The Titans moved to 3-1 with an impressive 31-13 win over the Cleveland Browns without their best wide receiver who may be out for the season.
|HARD AT WORK—Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (43) tries to wrestle the ball away Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) in the fourth quarter Oct. 2, in Houston. The Texans won 17-10. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Chris Johnson of the Titans and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings are considered the best running backs in the game, but Houston’s Arian Foster is challenging that thinking. He led the league in rushing last season and ran all over, around and through the Steelers front line and linebackers as if they weren’t there for 155 yards on 30 carries including the game-winning 42-yard touchdown.
The Titans will be looking at the film with great delight to see that the Steel Curtain no longer exists in Pittsburgh as they make plans to put the ball in Johnson’s hands. Especially if they jump off to a lead like the Texans did.
Houston completely dominated the Steelers in the first half and the score should have been much larger than 10-0. They had three major penalties that should have stopped drives but they still managed to march down field on a 95 yard scoring drive that was really 115 yards if you add the penalties. And even though Matt Straub looked decent, as he had all day to throw the ball, the bulk of the plays were Foster running through the Steelers. It was like, well, they did look old. Slow. It wasn’t just the blocking, Foster had them grabbing at air.
Now the Steelers will have to prove that they can stop the run, because with the performance of Ray Rice from Baltimore and Foster, no team is going to be afraid to run on the Steelers again, especially Tennessee with Johnson.
Matt Hasselbeck, who is having an outstanding season so far with the Titans, stated that the main reason he came to Tennessee was the coach promised him line protection, which he didn’t get in Seattle. Well, maybe someone needs to talk to the Steelers, because the Texans spent as much time in the Steelers backfield as the Steelers, as they harassed Ben Roethlisberger the entire game, with five sacks, and many more rushed passes.
The Steelers came back to tie the game in the second half 10-10 but right after the tie, Houston marched down field as though the defense wasn’t there to take the lead for good at 17-10 finally getting the monkey off their back, that they couldn’t finish games.
It appeared that this was going be the case, as Antonio Brown, who had an outstanding game 6 receptions for 67 yards, took the kickoff 33 yards to the 48 yard line, with plenty time left, but the Steelers weren’t able to do anything with it.
Even though Andre Johnson, who is one of the 5 best receivers in the game, left with an injury, Ike Taylor once again played an outstanding game pretty much taking him out of the action before he was injured. He did have 4 catches for 43 yards.
Mike Wallace was unstoppable in the first half but got practically nothing in the second half as Ben was running for his life. Wallace had 4 receptions for 77 yards. The Steelers running game was pretty much shut down with Rashard Mendenhall being held to just 25 yards on 9 carries before leaving with an injury. Isaac Redman had 40 yards on 6 carries and Mewelde Moore 34 yards on 4 carries.
The Titans are a better defensive team than the Texans so the Steelers had better come up with some plays to get the ball out of Ben’s hands faster, because the offensive line is what it is, and nothing is going to change in a week. Opposing teams know they can get to him, so quick short passes may be what they need to go to. Like the Patriots, they need to run short routes but get big yardage after the catch. With the speed of Wallace, Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, why not try it. This standing in the pocket waiting for guys to get open isn’t working. They must become more creative offensively.
The Texans allowed only 296 yards and they were able to ransack Pittsburgh’s offensive line that was missing three starters because of injuries.
Sunday’s game had everything but throwback jerseys.
During an era in which many teams are spreading the field with wide receivers and operating a no-huddle offense out of the shotgun, the Texans welcomed back Foster by running 35 times for 180 yards.
We knew it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out, physical game with great defense,” Coach Gary Kubiak said. “We wanted to stay committed to the run.”
Hasselbeck, the 13-year veteran quarterback, who left Seattle after a playoff-filled decade, threw three touchdown passes in the first half and safety Jordan Babineaux returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown as the Titans thumped the Cleveland Browns, 31-13, for their third consecutive win under first-year coach Mike Munchak.
When the Titans signed Hasselbeck to a three-year deal in late July, the decision caused some head scratching around the league. Now, other teams may be kicking themselves.
“We thought he had a lot left in the tank from watching him in the playoffs last year,” Munchak said. “We didn’t bring him here to retire quietly. We brought him here to do exactly what he’s been doing.”
Tennessee’s Chris Johnson finally broke out of his early season funk, rushing 23 times for 101 yards, three more than his total in three games.
Johnson was glad to finally contribute to an offense Hasselbeck has humming.
“Of all the quarterbacks I’ve played with, he’s most like a coach on the field,” Johnson said.
Hasselbeck said the transition has been easier than expected, and credited offensive coordinator Chris Palmer for making it smooth and seamless.