The Steelers came out and did what they have done for years; they ran the ball well, stopped the run and worked their passing game off of their strength of their running game. Then when they’d established a lead they didn’t let the Texans back in to the game with any silly mistakes. This was obvious on even a basic viewing, here’s a look in depth at the individual highlights and lowlights.
Performances of Note
On offence the story of the game was the Steelers’ running game, the combination of the veteran Willie Parker
and rookie Rashard Mendenhall
started well, taking the holes opened by their o-line deep into the second and third levels of the Texans’ defences for a number of good gains. They picked up yards, controlled the clock and wore down the Texans’ defence, the bread and butter of Pittsburgh football was put on full show this week. Parker particularly shone, accounting for 6 broken tackles on his way to a big game on the ground
Working off of this strong running game Ben Roethlisberger
was consistent and efficient, finding holes in the Texans’ secondary for a strong passing performance. He may not have been the focus of the offence this week, but that doesn’t diminish what was a strong performance and an ideal start to the season getting him into the sort of rhythm that the Steelers need from him to improve on last season’s campaign.
The defence was stifling, the edge rush of Lamarr Woodley
and James Harrison
got going early and never let Matt Schaub get into a rhythm with his receivers when the game was still in reach. The pair combined for 4 sacks, to which Harrison added 3 pressures and Woodley added 2 hits & 2 pressures. On early showings this duo has the makings of a fearsome edge rush.
The key to the run defence this week wasn’t the much lauded nose tackle Casey Hampton, or veteran defensive end Aaron Smith, no this week the star on the Steelers’ defensive line was third year starter, Brett Keisel
. Keisel was strong against the run and added 4 pressures up front in his pass rush to round off an excellent performance. The Steelers line has been accused of lacking depth, so such a strong performance from their starters is a big plus.
had limited opportunities spelling for Willie Parker, but he showed good burst and power when he got the chance, more opportunities will come his way but he was better than the stat line suggests.
Performances of Note
There really is no other place to start for the Texans than Mario Williams
, he was the star of this game on both sides of the ball for both teams. Two sacks, three QB pressures and a forced fumble rushing the passer combined with some strong play against the run to key another outstanding performance, Ben Roethlisberger will be glad Williams went for the strip when he had a clean run otherwise he’d still be feeling it now.
In his first career start Zac Diles
put in a strong performance, outshining his more experienced colleagues amongst the LB corps. Diles showed good discipline against the run and didn’t give anything away in coverage, giving up only one reception for 2 yards on the two passes aimed his way.
It’s only fair to shine a light on the negative aspects of the Texans’ performances as well, and Matt Schaub
was a leading negative light in this respect. The Steelers’ never let him get into a rhythm (his offensive line certainly helped in that respect) and he was forcing throws for much of the afternoon, his interception thrown straight to Troy Polamalu as he rolled to the left sideline was a particular low light.
It’s a rare occasion that someone gets benched in week one but Fred Bennett
managed it for the Texans. He gave up 58 yards and a touchdown on four completions on four passes aimed his way, but his play against the run was the biggest issue with two missed tackles and generally just getting bullied by the Steelers’ wideouts to open up the edges for Willie Parker all day. After such a bright rookie season the Steelers brought Bennett back to ground with a thud.
started at left tackle for the Texans straight out of the gate as a rookie and he played atrociously, replacing Ephraim Salaam you’d think it was tough for the Texans to take a step down but Brown might have managed that. Two sacks given up and another four QB pressures combined for a dreadful game in pass protection. This was combined with a poor day against the run where he was muscled by the Steelers’ defensive front and looked just like the converted tight end that he is.
got plenty of opportunities to rush the ball but his offensive line didn’t afford him much space to show his skill in the open field. However Slaton did show some promise when he was given a little more help getting into the open field either by dump-offs into space or when he was occasionally afforded a running lane.
did not feature on defence but he did feature as a gunner on special teams and made a good play in punt coverage taking down Mewelde Moore for a 3 yard loss on a punt return in the third quarter.