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Inside the Steelers: Steelers vs Texans Preview

After surviving Jacksonville, the Pittsburgh Steelers were looking to put together a win streak against a team that they’ve owned in Cleveland. Instead, it was the Steelers who found themselves at the ugly end of a beat-down, getting absolutely humiliated by the Browns 31-10.

From top to bottom, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a team in turmoil. If it isn’t a slightly overthrown ball by Ben Roethlisberger, it’s a missed route or dropped ball by the receivers. Bad penalties and a defense that can’t get to the quarterback, or cause turnovers, makes this team more like the Paper Curtain than the vaunted defense Pittsburgh is usually known for. Cortez Allen has been a major disappointment at corner. He’s been burned more than Fire Marshall Bill. Defensive end Cam Thomas would be better served as a chair that you see so often on Pittsburgh streets saving a parking space. Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley isn’t the one executing plays on the field, but it is his ridiculous offense and play calls that are shackling Roethlisberger and the offense. For some unknown reason, the Steelers are intent on limiting Roethlisberger and his ability to call his own plays and design an offense tailored to his strengths.

Can you imagine Denver doing that to Peyton Manning? Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay? Hell, Joe Flacco in Baltimore!

Right now, though the Steelers are woefully average at best right now, their 3-3 record is better than 2-4 from last season. The losses to Tampa and Cleveland must seem like nails running across a chalkboard, but the season is still relatively young, and the time is now to do whatever it takes to turn this team around.

Even former Steeler greats in Bill Cowher and Hines Ward fired shots at the team on separate networks last week, calling the team “soft” and a “finesse team”. Those are two terms that are like a knife in the gut when it comes to describing a franchise known for it’s toughness. Head Coach Mike Tomlin called the assessments “elevator music” in Tuesday’s press conference. James Harrison, however, found himself in agreement with the words spoken by Cowher and Ward. “I would give the same opinion, that’s what it looked like,” linebacker James Harrison said. “They (Cleveland) did what they wanted to do. They passed the ball, they ran the ball and they did both effectively. They’re getting people where they want them in the run game, and they’re making plays in the pass game. I have no problems with what they said. It would be a correct assumption.”

Monday night, the Steelers face of against another struggling team in Houston. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been average most of the season. He comes in with 1,268 passing yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. Andre Johnson leads the team with 34 receptions for 419 yards and just one touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins has 25 catches for 366 yards and three scores. The focus of the offense is Arian Foster, who is back to form as one of the game’s best runners. He has 513 yards rushing with five touchdowns. He’s also grabbed 16 passes for 131 yards. Garrett Graham is seldom used as the tight end, as he only has 10 catches for 98 yards for the season.

Defensively, the team is led by J.J. Watt, who has seen the endzone three times as much as Andre Johnson has so far this year. He leads the team with four sacks. LB Brian Cushing leads the team with 49 tackles. The Texans rank 27th in the league in offensive yards allowed (397.2). The Texans have surrendered 694 total passing yards and five touchdowns in back-to-back losses to Dallas and Indianapolis.

Ben Roethlisberger and the entire offense will be looking to break out of their recent slump. Three total touchdowns in games against Jacksonville and Cleveland’s horrible defenses just aren’t cutting it. Roethlisberger has 1,593 yards passing with eight touchdown passes and three interceptions. Antonio Brown continues to to put up big numbers as the team’s go-to guy. He has 41 catches for 629 yards on the season and five touchdowns. Markus Wheaton put in extra time with Roethlisberger in the film room this week, after running multiple incorrect routes and dropping several passes. He’s 4th on the team with 24 receptions and 277 yards. Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey continue to be invisible. Justin Brown has 12 catches for 94 yards. Tight End Heath Miller is 3rd on the team with 26 snares for 262 yards and a score. He remains as reliable as ever. Perhaps there will be a Martavis  Bryant sighting this week. Who cares what this kid does on special teams. This team needs offensive help.

The star of the offense is undoubtedly Le’Veon Bell, who has 542 yards rushing on the year. Still, he’s only found paydirt once. He’s 2nd on the team with 28 catches for 251 yards. The Steelers have to find a way to be more creative inside the Red Zone. The lack of run/pass option plays are disturbing. It looks at times as if the Steelers are running in quicksand after they cross the 20 yard line. They appear to have no identity or idea of what they want to accomplish. This better be remedied quickly if the Steelers are to turn this season around.

Corner Brice McCain will replace Cortez Allen as the starter this week. Rookie Stephon Tuitt looks to assume a bigger role with the defense at end. He’s been taking snaps with the first team defense all week. Dick LeBeau raved about Tuitt during training camp and said he never had seen a player that big who run like the 6-foot-5, 303-pounder.

Prediction: The Steelers are at a point in the season where they need to make a statement. The talent is there, but the execution has been laughable. The calls (and Instagram Posts by Snoop Dogg) for Todd Haley’s head are growing louder by the week. For his sake, the offense had better get the ball rolling. It’s time to ride or die with Ben Roethlisberger. Somehow, someway, the Steelers will come out and finally put together a complete game, as they’ve done so many times under Mike Tomlin and at Heinz Field in Monday Night Football games…Steelers 27 Texans 14

 

Game Information

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) vs Houston Texans (3-3)

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.

Game-time: 8:30 PM

TV: ESPN

Weather: Overcast with a chance of light rain. Temps in the mid-50’s and dropping after kickoff.

Vegas Line: Steelers (-3)

 

Game Notes

* Overall Season Series is 2-2.

* With a win, Pittsburgh would improve to 41-24 all-time on
Monday Night Football and to 25-5 at home.

* A victory would improve Tomlin to 8-2 on Monday Night
Football as the team’s head coach and to 5-0 at home.

* A win would extend the Steelers perfect record on Monday
Night Football at Heinz Field to 8-0 since the stadium opened
in 2001.

* The Steelers own the best record in the NFL at home on Monday
Night Football of 24-5.

* QB Ben Roethlisberger owns a 5-0 record in home Monday
Night Football contests, completing 72-of-109 passes for 826
yards with nine touchdowns for a 104.8 passer rating.

* Houston is 3-4 all-time on Monday Night Football.

 

Injury Report 10/18

Pittsburgh Steelers

Out: DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), CB Ivan Taylor (forearm), S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring)

Questionable: LB Ryan Shazier (knee)

Probable: DE Cameron Heyward (ankle), RB Will Johnson (illness), DE Brett Keisel (knee), S Michael Mitchell (knee), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related)

Houston Texans

Out: CB Darryl Morris (ankle)

Questionable: LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), LB Mike Mohamed (calf)

Probable: G Brandon Brooks (illness), LB Brian Cushing (knee), RB Arian Foster (groin), WR DeAndre Hopkins (hand), DE Tim Jamison (groin), WR Andre Johnson (ankle), CB Johnathan Joseph (knee), C Chris Myers (not injury related), T Derek Newton (elbow), LB Brooks Reed (groin), LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee), DE J.J. Watt (thigh)

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Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!

From Midland, “The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania”, located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.


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