The Pittsburgh Steelers faced the most formidable opponent of the 2020 season thus far when the Houston Texans came to Heinz Field on Sunday. Yes, the Texans have yet to win a game this season, but facing the Super Bowl champs and the AFC’s number one seed from 2019 was a very tough start to the season. And while it seem like the Steelers were in for quite a battle early on, a solid second-half performance by the Steelers defense allowed Ben Roethlisberger to take a knee in the red zone to end of the game for the second straight week.
After opening the season 3-0 for the first time in 10 seasons, here are some of the numbers which helped lead to the Steelers win on Sunday at the Heinz Field against the Texans.
The streak is over! The Steelers did not commit a turnover against the Houston Texans on Sunday, ending their 25-game streak dating back to 2018. Although Chase Claypool‘s fumble out of bounds late was only about a yard away from being a fumble through the end zone, the Steelers retained possession and talk of such a streak will be extinguished for a couple seasons at least.
Starting off with the first two “numbers” technically being a lack of number, the Steelers allowed no points to the Houston Texans in the second half of the game after surrendering 21 points in the first 30 minutes. The Steelers only allowed two first downs by the Texans in the second half on their 17 plays. After 209 yards of offense in the first half, the Texans only had 51 yards the remainder of the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers have continued their streak to start the season of having a 100 yard rusher each week. Against the Texans, it was James Conner going for 109 yards on 18 carries. Although not the same player each game, the Steelers are the only team in the NFL to accomplish this feat.
Pittsburgh Steelers managed to maintain the football for almost a quarter longer than the Houston Texans on Sunday. The 13:42 advantage is the most the Steelers have had over an opponent since Week 14 of the 2016 season when they defeated the Buffalo Bills 27-20 in Buffalo. The Steelers had a 3:20 edge at halftime, so the Steelers 10:22 advantage in the second half means the Steelers held the ball more than twice as long and the Texans over the final 30 minutes.
Part of the reason the Steelers had such a high time of possession advantage as well as hold the Texans to no points in the second half was how much they shut down the running game. The Texans only rushed the ball for 29 yards on 15 attempts. The Steelers kept quarterback Deshaun Watson from rushing as he only had one carry for 5 yards. Texans’ running back David Johnson had 23 yards rushing on 15 attempts for an average of 1.8 yards per carry.
The Steelers couldn’t get any more balanced in their offensive attack then what they did on Sunday. In the 72 players they ran, the Steelers had 38 rushing attempts and 38 pass plays. Of the 38 passing plays, Ben Roethlisberger threw 36 attempts and was sacked twice. Of the 38 players that went down as rushing attempts, one was a drop back in which Roethlisberger rushed for 2 yards while four more plays were kneel downs.
The Steelers have continued to turn their takeaways into points during the 2020 season. This week, the Mike Hilton interception not only stopped the Texans only second-half drive to enter Steelers territory, the offense turned the opportunity into a touchdown and two point conversion to take a seven-point lead. On the season, the Steelers have five takeaways which have turned into 27 points.
As bad as the penalties were in Week 2 for the Steelers, they only had two infractions on the day. One was an illegal man downfield by Alejandro Villanueva on a screen pass which cost them 5 yards. The other went down in the books as a 9 yard penalty which moved the Steelers from inside the 1 yard line to the 10 yard line when Ben Roethlisberger threw away a pass through the end zone nowhere close to any receiver and was called for intentional grounding. While the penalty on Villanueva impeded the Steelers from getting a first down where they settled for a field goal, Roethlisberger‘s intentional grounding was followed by a 10 yard touchdown pass to Eric Ebron on the next play.
At the moment, the Pittsburgh Steelers are credited with having five sacks of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. One of the five sacks was a tackle by Bud Dupree when Watson escaped the pocket and was considered brought down for no gain. It’s possible the NFL changes the stat this week if they gauge Watson gained a yard on the play. Whether or not it counts as a sack when it’s all said and done, the Steelers still extended their streak of consecutive regular-season games with at least a sack to 60. Although some have reported this is the second most in NFL history, it is really only that many since sacks became an official individual statistic in 1982. If looking at NFL history, the Steelers are tied for the 5th longest streak all time with the longest streak being 76 games by the Detroit Lions from 1960 to 1965.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Sunday against the Texans. While some would like to detract from the Steelers victory as well as their 3-0 start because none of their opponents have yet to win a game in 2020, all the Steelers can do is play who they have on the schedule and make sure they come out on top. And in Week 3, the Steelers did it again.
Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.