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Steelers vs. Texans Week 7 statistical breakdown

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious on Monday Night Football, but not without plenty of trepidation along the way. Statistics show this team still has some work to do in some key areas.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers advanced their record to 4-3 after a 30-23 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 7 action. Looking at this game and this Steelers' team from a statistical standpoint shows there's some good, but plenty that could be improved moving forward.

Stretching is good

The Steelers attempted deep passes more against the Texans than they had in their previous three games, and that was largely due to the insertion of Martavis Bryant into the lineup. Ben Roethlisberger's average yards-per- completion was eight yards, the second highest of the season behind the Week 1 win over the Cleveland Browns where he averaged 10.4 yards per completion. The Steelers' ability to throw the ball deep successfully opens up the entire offense and leads to offensive success.

Protection Problems

Steelers fans remember 2013 when the offensive line gelled and was able to allow only three sacks of Ben Roethlisberger during the second half of the season. Through seven games of the 2014 season, the team has already surrendered 20 sacks. Not all of those sacks are on the offensive line, but on Roethlisberger for holding onto the ball too long. However, protection is something that needs to be improved on to keep Roethlisberger healthy for the full complement of games this season.

Special teams special...again

Shaun Suisham might not have the big leg that many NFL kickers have but, inside of 50 yards, there aren't many as accurate as Suisham, who hasn't missed a kick of that distance in 2014. On top of the stellar place kicking, there's the confident young punter Brad Wing who's slowly showing fans what he's capable of doing. Wing pinned the Texans inside the 10-yard line twice on Monday night and allowed the defense to play an aggressive style that led to turnovers.

Not everything is special though...

The Steelers' return units have been sub-par so far. Dri Archer was selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft for his elusiveness, speed and ability to return kickoffs the distance. He hasn't shown any of those in the return game so far this season. The Steelers have the second-worst starting field position of all 32 NFL teams, with an average starting position at their own 18.5-yard line. Only the Arizona Cardinals start more drives deeper on their own side of the field.

Zoning out the Zone

If the Steelers didn't play another team that deploys the zone blocking scheme that gives this defense issues, they wouldn't complain about it. Unfortunately, there are other teams that run those schemes still on their schedule, and by looking at the performance Monday night, the defense hasn't fixed their issues with the zone scheme. Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 20 attempts, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He would have rushed for more if the Steelers' wouldn't have scored in bunches and forced the game to be a pass happy attack to get back in the game. The zone stretch scheme continues to plague this Steelers' defense.

Steelers D becoming ball hawks?

The Steelers have struggled to create turnovers the past three seasons, and that trend is still continuing, but the two forced fumbles caused on Monday night gave the team six forced fumbles on the season. Those six fumbles have the team ranked tied for 12th in the NFL in terms of caused fumbles. Not quite the ball-hawks the Chicago Bears are with 12 so far this season and leading the NFL, but possibly a start of something.

Possess your possessions

The Steelers have done a good job of possessing the ball on offense in 2014. Their average of 32 minutes of possession time is sixth in the NFL. Although the Steelers have been possessing the ball well, it hasn't equated to points often enough to see consistent success. Quick side note: when the Steelers host the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at Heinz Field, they will be facing the NFL's top possession team with an average of 36 minutes of possession time.

Finally North of the Mendoza line

The Steelers have been on the negative side of the turnover ratio for years now, and they've finally climbed over that mountain as they sit on a +1 turnover margin. They're tied for 17th in the NFL in turnover/takeaway margin. The Steelers' defense has started to take the football away and that can equate to better offensive numbers along with helping their turnover numbers.

Third Downs are key downs

When it comes to third downs, it's a double-edged sword. Your defense needs to get off the field and your offense needs to convert. The Steelers' defense is fifth in the NFL, only allowing opposing offenses to convert third-down opportunities at a 34.9 percent success rate. Offensively, the Steelers are tied for 19th in the NFL only converting on third downs 40 percent of the time. This will be a telling statistic Sunday at Heinz Field, as the visiting Indianapolis Colts are the top defense on third downs and getting off the field.