Steelers vs. Texans score: Pittsburgh climbs out of early hole, improves to 3-0 for first time since 2010

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After a high-scoring first half, the Steelers’ defense shut out the visiting Texans in the second half Sunday for a 28-21 victory. Pittsburgh is 3-0 for the first time since 2010, while Houston will now have to dig itself out of an 0-3 hole. 

Pittsburgh, down 14-3 early, took the lead after Ben Roethlisberger threw first half touchdown passes to Eric Ebron and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Texans’ offense, led by Deshuan Watson, gave Houston a 21-17 halftime lead after Watson found Will Fuller for a 14-yard score. 

After a rocky first half, the Steelers’ defense clamped down on Watson, sacking him five times while coming up with a big third quarter interception by Mike Hilton. The turnover set up Pittsburgh’s game-winning score, a 12-yard touchdown run by James Conner. The Steelers extended their lead after Smith-Schuster scored on Pittsburgh’s two-point conversion. After a sack by T.J. Watt helped force another Texans punt, a third down completion from Roethlisberger to rookie Chase Claypool iced the game for the Steelers. 

Roethlisberger, who on Sunday surpassed Mike Webster for the most games played in Steelers history, enjoyed another solid outing, going 23-of-36 for 237 yards while improving his season touchdown/interception ratio to 7/1. Conner rushed for over 100 yards for a second straight game, as the Steelers ran for 169 yards on 38 carries. Bud Dupree paced Pittsburgh with 1.5 sacks. 

Watson, who went 14 of 18 in the first half, finished with 264 yards on 19 of 27 passing. Randall Cobb led the Texans with 95 yards and a touchdown on four catches, while Houston’s running game was held to just 29 yards on 15 carries. 

Here’s a deeper look into how the Steelers were able to come from behind against the Texans. 

Why the Steelers won 

Pittsburgh played complementary football during the second half. Following Hilton’s interception, the Steelers executed a 12-play, 79-yard drive that was capped off by Conner’s game-winning touchdown. The Steelers’ defense then forced a quick three-and-out before giving the ball back to its offense, which made sure the Texans would not get another chance with the ball. The Steelers dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for nearly 37 minutes. 

The Steelers continue to receive stellar play from former Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell, who made both of his field goals on Sunday that included a 26-yarder at the start of the second half. Boswell has now made all five of his field goals through three games. 

Why the Texans lost

Houston appeared to be ready for a shootout after Watson’s second touchdown pass gave the Texans a 21-10 halftime lead. But in the second half, Houston, after continuing to get nothing from its ground game, became one dimensional, as Watson became an easy target for Pittsburgh’s pass rush. Defensively, Houston’s run defense, ranked 31st in the NFL coming into Sunday, continued to struggle, allowing the Steelers to run for 169 yards on 38 carries. The Texans also had no answer for Pittsburgh’s tight end duo of Ebron and Vance McDonald, who combined to catch eight passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Turning point

The Texans seemed poised to add to their one-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. After forcing two consecutive punts, Houston entered Pittsburgh territory after Watson hit Cobb for a 34-yard gain on a third-and-10 play. But two plays after Cobb’s catch, Watson, pressured by Watt, forced an errant pass downfield that was picked off by Hilton, as Pittsburgh extended its streak of forcing at least one turnover to nine games. The pick set up the Steelers’ game-winning score. 

Play of the game 

The game’s biggest play belongs to Hilton, who was beaten by Cobb on the Texans’ first score of the game. Hilton, a former undrafted rookie who was claimed off waivers by the Steelers late in the 2016 season, already has an interception, a fumble recovery and two sacks through three games. 

Quotable 

“We needed to give our defense a break. We didn’t do that enough in the first half. They got the ball for us, and it was one of those situations where it was gut check time. Our linemen were gassed, but so were [the Texans]. We didn’t want to slow down, so I told them, ‘This is gut check time. It’s time to dig down and see what we can do,’ and they did it. They kept opening holes, and the backs just kept plowing their way through. I can’t talk enough about how proud I am of that group up front, and on that drive especially, because that was not easy.” — Roethlisberger on the Steelers’ game-winning drive, a drive that took seven minutes off the clock 

What’s next 

The Steelers will head to Nashville to take on the 3-0 Titans. Pittsburgh is 1-0 at on the road this season after defeating the Giants in Week 1. The Texans, who dropped their home opener against the Ravens, will host the Vikings, who fell to 0-3 after dropping a 31-30 decision to Tennessee on Sunday. Houston lost their season-opener to Baltimore last Sunday. 

Relive the game in real time by checking out our live blog below for highlights, updates and analysis.

Season Leaders

passing

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D. Watson


792 YD, 4 TDS, 3 INTS


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D. Watson


792 YD, 4 TDS, 3 INTS


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B. Roethlisberger


777 YD, 7 TDS, 1 INT


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B. Roethlisberger


777 YD, 7 TDS, 1 INT


rushing

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D. Johnson


35 ATT, 134 YD, 2 TDS


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D. Johnson


35 ATT, 134 YD, 2 TDS


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J. Conner


40 ATT, 224 YD, 2 TDS


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J. Conner


40 ATT, 224 YD, 2 TDS


receiving

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R. Cobb


11 REC, 177 YD, 1 TD


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R. Cobb


11 REC, 177 YD, 1 TD


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J. Smith-Schuster


17 REC, 160 YD, 3 TDS


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J. Smith-Schuster


17 REC, 160 YD, 3 TDS


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Steelers win this one, 28-21. Pittsburgh is now 3-0 for the first time since 2010, while Houston will now look to get out of its 0-3 hold. Thanks again for joining us! Be sure to stay with CBS Sports.com for everything NFL related.

The game appears to be on ice after Roethlisberger hits rookie Chase Claypool for 24 yards. It hasn’t been perfect, but Steelers put together a solid fourth quarter that has included Conner’s touchdown, JuJu’s 2-point conversion catch, Watt’s sack of Watson, and Claypool’s third down catch. Steelers can run three plays, then call on Boswell to make it a two possession game.

T.J. Watt is playing at an incredible level right now. Just ended Houston’s last drive, and now he sacks Watson on first down for an 11-yard loss. The sack helped force a punt, as the Steelers now have the ball and the lead with just over five minutes left. Pittsburgh has now sacked Watson five times.

Really nice, well-balanced drive by the Steelers, who take the lead on James Conner’s 12-yard touchdown run. Pittsburgh called seven passes and five runs on the drive. Conner had five of those carries, as Steelers now have 138 yards on 29 carries. Steelers make it 28-21 on Smith-Schuster’s 2-point conversion catch.

Big interception by Mike Hilton, who picks off Watson’s third down pass. Watson was in a tough spot, as Houston was too far from FG range had Watt bearing down on him. That being said, Watson should have thrown it away, as Houston’s defense has had success against the Steelers’ offense this half. Watson also needs to avoid big hits like that. Speaking of Watt, his big tackle on Cooks after Watson’s 34-yard completion to Cobb really put the clamps on that drive.

If you’re the Steelers, you should re-commit yourselves to the running game. You have four running backs on the roster, and you’re facing the league’s 31st ranked run defense. Surprised to see McFarland getting more work than Snell, who put the ball on the ground during last Sunday’s win over the Broncos.

This could end up being a turning point. Texans have to punt after three plays, as Houston’s defense was given virtually no time to rest after just being on the field for give minutes. Houston decided to go conservative, as Watson settled for two shorts passes before the Texans punted.

Good hold by Houston’s defense, as Steelers have to settle for another Boswell field goal. Pittsburgh had just runs on the 12-play drive after McFarland gained just two yards on his last two carries after starting the drive with an 11-yard run. A drop by James Washington also aided the Texans’ red zone defense. Pittsburgh is now just 1-3 in the red zone today.

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