Pittsburgh Steelers: The Old Boys In Pittsburgh Still Got Game


Heading into Monday night, the idea of the Pittsburgh Steelers beating an AFC playoff contender, after losses to the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, seemed improbable to many — including formers Steelers Bill Cowher and Hines Ward.

Considering the Texans best players, J.J. Watt and Arian Foster, are the poster children for the Steelers’ two biggest weaknesses: the speed pass rush and outside zone-blocking run scheme,  the Steelers would have to conjure up “magic” to move to above .500. And scoring 21 points in less than three minutes would certainly qualify as unexplained for an offense that hasn’t found the end zone more than once in their past two games.

Watt and Foster played up to their reputations; however, the beleaguered Steelers finally found a way to defeat their kryptonite with an efficient red zone offense and an opportunistic, aggressive defense.

Watt ruled the Steelers offense at times. He had a fumble recovery, three tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries. But old man No. 99, Brett Keisel, was the king.

“The old boys still got a little bit of game,” stated Keisel after bringing the Steelers perhaps back to AFC relevance.

It began when the Steelers forced a Texans punt deep in their own end zone. Keisel collapsed on Ryan Fitzpatrick, forcing a three-and-out deep in Texan territory. Ben Roethisberger followed suit with a 35-yard TD strike to rookie Martavis Bryant in his first-ever NFL action.

Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons then took their best shots at Arian Foster. Right after a smartly called timeout by the inconsistent game manager Mike Tomlin, Worilds bent Foster back at the goalline, forcing the fumble. Sean Spence scooped up the ball, handing it back to the offense on the three and 1:10 left in the half.

With Ryan Shazier expected to return Week 8, Spence recorded his top game: six tackles, five solo. He was particularly effective in the second half. Worilds easily had his most impactful game of the year, just as coach Tomlin requested in his press conference. Worilds consistently pressured Fitzpatrick throughout the game, particularly on third downs.

The Steelers typically slow-plodding offense stunned fans wasting no time scoring after the turn-over.  Antonio Brown took the sweep toss from Roethlisberger and threw the improbable left-hand TD to fellow small-man Lance Moore. It gave the Steelers their first lead of the game 17-13.

Keisel then tipped the home crowd a final second-quarter bonus.

Instead of letting the last minute of the half expire, Fitzpatrick came out firing from his 20-yard line. Surrounded by the pass rush of Worilds, Keisel, Cameron Heyward, and James Harrison, Fitzpatrick’s pass was re-routed by Keisel into Timmons’ facemask. It bounced back to the awaiting Keisel, who did his “J.J. Watt” gallop down to the 8-yard line.

Roethlisberger gave the stunned Texans defense no time to react. On second down, he re-shifted his offense, using his top target, Brown, as a decoy. The confusion opened Bell in corner of the endzone for an easy seven points. Steelers headed into half once down 13-3, now up 24-13.

It proved to be too many points to recover from for Houston. It also proved Keisel has a little game still in the tank.


Safety Mike Mitchell gave another one of his signature stamps, this time to Bryant’s former Clemson teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who coughed it up. Troy Polamalu scooped it up and Suisham kicked his third and final time.

Mitchell was heralded as a ball-hawking safety but his big hits ring just as loudly with the Heinz Field crowd.