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Other Week 2 Game Recaps

Week 2 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Houston Texans 7

What you need to know

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers picked up right where they left off from last week with a sound performance all around against the Texans. Once again, the running game set the tone for Ben Roethlisberger, who produced 254 yards passing and two touchdowns, completing 14 of 21 attempts, including 11 of 15 for 201 yards in the first half. His bruised knee was not a factor. Pittsburgh scored on its first four possessions and five of its first six (their fifth drive ended at the end of the half).

Roethlisberger and Hines Ward, who had six receptions for 84 yards, got together twice for scores, one for 16 yards, the other for 14, and two Jeff Reed field goals gave the Steelers a 20-0 halftime lead. Roethlisberger also completed a couple of deep balls, one to Antwaan Randle El for 53 yards, and another to Cedrick Wilson for 40 yards.

Willie Parker contributed 70 rushing yards in the first half on 13 attempts, and finished with 111 on 25 carries, including a 10 yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to put the Steelers ahead 27-7. While he was not as explosive as last week, he had a handful of mid-range gains with a long of 19 on the first play of the game. When coach Bill Cowher was asked in his post game press conference about how he’d handle the return of Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis, Cowher said of Parker, “He’s our starter. He’s not going anywhere.”

The Steelers’ defense took advantage of the Texans’ inferior offensive line, producing eight sacks. They had four in each half, and registered 11 hurries in the first half alone. Troy Polamalu led the onslaught with three sacks, and Dick Lebeau’s unit forced four Houston punts, a fumble, a turnover on downs, with the clock expiring to close the Texans’ eighth possession.

Houston Texans

The Texans have allowed 79, 36 and 49 sacks respectively over the last three years. That generosity continued with five sacks allowed at Buffalo last week, and they surrendered eight more to the Steelers, as David Carr could do nothing at times but just run out of bounds in frustration.

When given time, Carr looked good enough to lead a few long drives, two that went for 11 plays and another for 14. Houston actually won the time of possession battle by nearly two minutes. Their longest drive went for 78 yards on 14 plays capped off by a three yard touchdown pass to Domanick Davis, which breathed a brief sign of life into the Texans’ offense. Davis led the team with 92 total yards (59 rushing, 33 receiving)

However dropped passes, 38 yards in offensive penalties and many breakdowns in protection put most fuses out, as Carr could only manage 167 yards going 16 for 26 on the day. He also had 46 yards on seven carries on the few occasions he was able to get out of the pocket.

What you ought to know

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pass: 14 - 21 - 254 - 2 TD / 0 INT

Roethlisberger was steady throughout and showed great pocket presence, leading the Steelers to scores on all four first-half possessions. His bruised knee did not seem to a problem at all. He was just two of four on their first drive, but finished 15 of 21 for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Roethlisberger completed six of his seven passes on Pittsburgh’s two touchdown drives. After a Steelers’ fumble recovery, he hit Ward for a 16 yard touchdown pass on the second play of their second drive. He followed that up on the next drive with a 14 yarder to Ward five seconds into the second quarter. On that play, Roethlisberger led cornerback Dunta Robinson one way with a pump fake before hitting Ward who cut to the opposite direction. He also completed a 54 yard bomb to Randle El to help set up their fourth score, a Reed field goal. He attempted only six passes in the second half, converting three.

RB Willie Parker, Rush: 25 - 111 - 1

Parker had continued success compiling 111 yards on 25 carries. He didn’t break any really long runs but had several big gainers with three rushes in double digits (19, 14 and 10). The remaining carries he averaged a workmanlike 3.1 yards per carry. Parker opened up the game with his 19 yard gain and set up Jeff Reed’s field goal with his 14 yarder. His touchdown came late in the third quarter when he broke two tackles and scampered 10 yards for the score. He had nine carries for 23 yards on the final drive to help drain the game clock before Verron Haynes took over in the final four minutes. After the game, coach Bill Cowher was asked how he’d work in Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis. Cowher responded, "He's our starter. I don't think you need to keep asking me that. He's not going anywhere."

RB Verron Haynes, Rush: 7 - 24 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)

Haynes was used sparingly on third downs before mopping up late in the fourth quarter. He had 21 yards on five carries on the final Steelers’ drive and had a 20 yard run called back from a holding penalty. His reception came on the last play of the first half.

WR Hines Ward, Rec: 6 - 84 - 2 (9 targets)

After being used very little last week, Ward caught five of six passes thrown his way in the first half gaining 78 yards and scoring twice. On his first touchdown catch during the team’s second drive, he followed his Roethlisberger’s lead on a pump fake and cut to his left for the reception where he split two tacklers into the end zone. Earlier that drive, Ward found a spot in between six Texans’ defenders within five yards for a 20 yard reception. His second score was all too easy as he beat single coverage down the middle on the first play of the second quarter. Ward had one reception for six yards in the fourth quarter.

WR Antwaan Randle El, Rec: 3 - 75 - 0 (4 targets)

Randle El caught two of his three passes on the first scoring drive, both for first downs, to help set up a Reed field goal. He also caught a 54 yard bomb with Dunta Robinson glued to his back midway through the second quarter to help set up Reed’s second field goal of the game. Randle El had two punt returns for 10 yards with a long of 16.

WR Cedrick Wilson, Rec: 2 - 76 - 0 (3 targets)

Wilson was the recipient of a play action pass that went for 30 yards during Pittsburgh’s second touchdown drive in the second quarter. He also benefited from a Houston offside penalty that nullified a Ward nine yard reception on third and 10. On the ensuing play (third and five) Roethlisberger found Wilson for 40 yards, setting up Parker’s touchdown three plays later.

TE Jerame Tuman, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)

Tuman caught one pass for four yards, the only target tossed to a tight end on the day.

TE Heath Miller

The rookie saw zero balls thrown his way.

PK Jeff Reed 2 - 2 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 9 points

Reed converted all three of his extra points and nailed field goals of 37 and 35 yards.

PIT Rush Defense

The Texans barely matched Willie Parker’s performance by gaining 113 yards on 25 carries against the Steelers. They held Davis to 59 yards, and gave up 46 to David Carr, mostly after being chased out of the pocket on passing downs. James Farrior had 9 total tackles and Troy Polamalu, lining up inside the box, often had six tackles.

PIT Pass Defense

Eight sacks and numerous quarterback pressures kept David Carr on his heels while safety Troy Polamalu (three sacks) and the secondary blitzed constantly as the Texans’ tried to tie up the linebackers. Clark Haggans earned a sack and a forced fumble and Ike Taylor started his first game as the official number two cornerback. He had five solo tackles.

QB David Carr, Pass: 16 - 26 - 167 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 46 - 0

David Carr was at the mercy of the Steelers’ blitzing defense all day. To his credit, whatever they gave him, he gladly took. Carr was an efficient 16 of 26 for 167 yards. On his very first pass attempt his arm was hit by Clark Haggans for a sack and fumble. Carr completed five of his next eight passes over the next two drives and had one completion called back on a penalty, but was also sacked twice, and was the victim of two dropped passes, one by Corey Bradford on third and six that could have gained at least 15 yards. Carr rallied to lead Houston on a 14 play, 78 yard drive to open the second half where he had completions of 26 and 19 as well as a 20 yard run of his own, before finding Domanick Davis for a three yard score. The pass rush proved to be too much, however, as scrambling seemed to be his only offensive weapon at times. Of Carr’s 46 yards rushing on seven carries, only one run for six yards was a designed play.

RB Domanick Davis, Rush: 15 - 59 - 0, Rec: 4 - 33 - 1 (6 targets)

Davis slightly improved from last week picking up 59 yards on 15 carries and was consistently average throughout the game. He had 33 yards in the first half with a long of nine, and of his 26 second half yards, 15 were on one carry. He led Houston with four receptions, as he was a constant safety valve for David Carr. Davis’ number was called in their only trip to the red zone, where he caught a three yard touchdown pass in the right flat. He had 31 yards during the scoring drive, including a 19 yard reception. He also had an eight yarder called back on a penalty. His pass protection was shaky as he was unable to pick up Troy Polamalu twice on sacks.

RB Jonathan Wells, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)

Wells was used to spell Davis and had 12 yards, eight rushing and four receiving.

WR Andre Johnson, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (7 targets)

Johnson, the Texans best WR, was limited to just 20 yards on four receptions with a long of just six yards. It was the sixth consecutive game dating back to last year in which he has failed to reach 50 yards in a game. He didn’t help himself either with two drops, one of which would have gotten a first down. On the ensuing play, Carr was sacked for a loss of 11. His other drop came on first and goal from the four, but Domanick Davis saved him and scored two plays later in the third quarter. He’ll have the bye week to try and figure things out before heading to Cincinnati.

WR Derick Armstrong, Rec: 2 - 42 - 0 (3 targets)

Armstrong caught two passes for 42 yards including a 28 yarder to put the Texans in the red zone en route to Domanick Davis’ touchdown.

WR Jabar Gaffney, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (5 targets)

Gaffney, while sought out five times, was of little impact with seven yards on two receptions.

WR Corey Bradford, Rec: 2 - 49 - 0 (4 targets)

Bradford led the team with 49 yards on two receptions and made a nifty juggling reception after jumping over the coverage for 24 yards. He also dropped a third down pass that could have gone for 15-20 yards, easy. As the struggles of David Carr and company continue, Bradford and others will need to pick up their game accordingly.

TE Matt Murphy, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets)

Murphy caught Carr’s first pass for 12 yards on Houston’s second drive.

PK Kris Brown 0 - 0 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 1 points

Brown converted one extra point. His offense gave him zero opportunities to attempt a field goal.

HOU Rush Defense

While they haven’t been blown away from the line of scrimmage this year, they haven’t been aggressive enough either. They allowed Pittsburgh to 135 yards on 32 carries for an average of 4.2 yards per carry, and thus vulnerable to the play action. Kailee Wong led the defense with 11 tackles (eight solo). DE Gary Walker left the game in the second quarter with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder and spent the remainder of the game on the sidelines wearing a sling.

HOU Pass Defense

The Texans gave up 254 yards passing and two touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger despite having two excellent cornerbacks. Their lone defensive penalty was a costly one – a five yard offsides infraction on a failed third down conversion, which led to a 40 yard completion to Cedrick Wilson. The Steelers scored the game clinching touchdown three plays later. Linebacker Antwaan Peek had a sack.

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