Sat, 31 Oct 2020

Texans at Steelers, Week 3 | The Harris Hits

Houston Texans
29 Sep 2020, 04:02 GMT+10

John Harris

On a beautiful Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, the Steelers showed why they're 3-0 thus far in 2020 with another stout performance on their home turf. The Texans walked onto the Heinz Field turf, landed some haymakers on the Steelers but came up short 28-21 in a grueling September matchup. Here are my Harris Hits from the afternoon.

The Texans drive before the half that led to Will Fuller V's touchdown was just sublime. After the Steelers took a 17-14 lead with 1:14 left in the half, quarterback Deshaun Watson led the offense down the field with pinpoint throws that yielded a five play, 75-yard drive to take back the lead. That drive was one that we imagined we'd see from this offense when it was constructed this offseason. On that five play drive, Watson completed passes to four different receivers on that drive and he wasn't even breathed upon by the Steelers pass rush.

When Pittsburgh scored that touchdown at the end of the half, knowing that it would get the ball to start the second half, I was really worried that the Steelers would turn into a double dip situation (team scoring last in the half gets the ball to start the second half and scores again). Kansas City did that in week one. The Ravens didn't quite do it, but they held the ball for nearly nine minutes to start the second half. This time, though, the Texans went right down the field against the best unit in the league as if it was easy and took the lead when Fuller V pulled one down from the heavens for his first touchdown of the year.

The Texans first half was an indication of what they can really do on both sides of the ball, for the most part, when they're playing complementary football. The offense couldn't really find any running room against the best run defense in the league, but the passing game found some footing with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller V and Randall Cobb all making life difficult on Pittsburgh's defense. Deshaun Watson had a 150 rating in the first half alone.

Defensively, the pass rush was having an impact and made some key stops through a good portion of the first half. Unfortunately, the Texans couldn't maintain that pressure into the fourth quarter. The Steelers ran 41 plays in the second half to the Texans 17 and that took its toll on the Texans defense when it mattered most.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson delivered some beautiful throws throughout the first half, but his best Houdini escape in the fourth quarter was perhaps his most outstanding escape of the 2020 season to date. In the second half, the Texans faced a third down and ten and Watson got some pressure from his right side. He snuck under the two man mosh pit of T.J. Watt/Tytus Howard and got out to his right. As he approached the line of scrimmage, he saw receiver Randall Cobb open. He fired one to Cobb for a 37-yard gain and a huge first down in the fourth quarter.

Cobb was outstanding on Sunday with four catches for 95 yards, including the aforementioned 37-yarder. He also scored on a touchdown pass from Watson in the first quarter. Cobb worked himself open against Texans menace Mike Hilton with a great move on his route, caught Watson's pass and sprinted into the end zone, mainly, untouched.

In the past two games, Cobb has been a consistent weapon for Watson and this Texans offense. He's had nine catches for 154 yards and one touchdown in his past two games. He'll be needed in the worst way to get this season turned around, starting next week against a team Cobb knows well - Minnesota.

Furthermore, the Texans had six players with 23 or more yards receiving as Watson spread the ball out to all of his skill players.

Throughout the day, numerous Texans defenders made standout plays. Carlos Watkins fired past Pittsburgh's left guard easily for his first sack of the year. Eric Murray timed up a throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a pass breakup in the second half. Charles Omenihu came up with another sack for the second consecutive week. Bradley Roby knocked down a key third down pass in the second half. Zach Cunningham bounced back from a leg injury in the first half to record ten tackles. Benardrick McKinney led the team with 11 tough tackles. The defense just needed to find a way off the field in the second half for a much needed respite to finish the game.

Well, I'll cut it there and hope for better things ahead as the Texans search for their first win of the 2020 season next week against the Vikings. See ya then, everyone.

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