NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 3 PFF ReFocused: Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Houston Texans 21

Any AFC team with Super Bowl aspirations will likely meet the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers in the playoffs, but the Houston Texans were awarded those three teams to start their 2020 season. The results have been expected yet infuriating.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story of the Game

Houston flew into Blitzburgh on Sunday afternoon, and the Pittsburgh Steelers defense stiffened in the second half en route to a 28-21 victory.

The Texans offense raced out to 21 first-half points behind Deshaun Watson completing 14 of his 18 pass attempts for 203 yards, including some “beauty plays” only Watson could make.

From that point on, though, Watson only completed five passes for 62 yards across 13 dropbacks and a wing-and-a-prayer interception in the fourth quarter. Watson created positive plays under pressure — a position he’s more than used to being in behind this Texans offensive line — in the first half. On seven pressured dropbacks, he completed four balls, had one dropped and had one big-time throw. The Steelers defense rallied with five pressures in the second half and created two sacks and an interception on those plays. Stephon Tuitt led the way for the Steelers with three total pressures.

For Pittsburgh, we wondered if having a healthy, competent quarterback could push the 8-8 team we saw a year ago back into legitimacy in the AFC — it's been so far, so good for the now 3-0 Steelers.

Ben Roethlisberger might not be the quarterback he used to be, but he didn’t turn the ball over, and the Steelers were able to run for 170 yards on 37 carries. This was a big game from the offensive line, which paved open paths for both James Conner and Benny Snell Jr. Only 84 of the 170 total rushing yards came after contact — big holes, indeed.

The only concern for the Steelers moving forward after this win will be Big Ben’s deep-ball accuracy. He did not complete one pass beyond 20 yards on six attempts. He also only completed three passes on seven intermediate attempts (10-19 yards downfield) in the game.

Rookie watch

Roethlisberger’s lack of production down the field led to rookie receiver Chase Claypool not being involved much on the stat sheet. The British Columbia native was targeted four times on his 28 receiving snaps and could not come away with a reception. Anthony McFarland Jr. chipped into the excellent rushing attack, gaining seven yards per carry on six carries, totaling 42 yards. Rookie edge defender Alex Highsmith also chipped in with five pass-rushing snaps, though he failed to record a pressure.

Houston did not have a rookie take a snap in this one. Rookies John Reid and Ross Blacklock entered this week's game with a total of 32 and 27 snaps, respectively.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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