Steelers Clinch 1st Round Bye With Dominant Win Against Houston

The Steelers looked to rebound after a hard loss to New England last week, and they came out hot as they converted four straight 1st downs on their first drive of the game. Ben Roethlisberger found Martavis Bryant and Vance McDonald often on this drive, but Pittsburgh had to settle for a field goal. Chris Boswell continued his hot streak, hitting from 34 yards out and to give the Steelers an early lead, 3 to 0.

Houston looked to answer back, but Pittsburgh’s defense overwhelmed quarterback T.J. Yates and Texans’ offense. Mike Hilton made his presence known early, getting Yates for a sack to end Houston’s drive.

As Pittsburgh took over on offense, it was Martavis Bryant yet again to make a play, as he made an over-the-shoulder catch for 35 yards. However, a surprise player would add to Pittsburghs’ score as Roethlisberger found Justin Hunter for his first touchdown catch as a Steeler. With Hunter’s touchdown catch, the score is 10 to 0.

Houston looked to do their damage on the ground as running backs Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue ran the ball with ease. Cameron Heyward made a great play on the drive, tackling Yates for a loss and adding another sack to his season total (11). Joe Haden came back after missing several weeks with a broken fibula. He shut star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins down for the entire first half, defending passes and providing relentless tight coverage.

To start the second quarter, Houston looked to get something going as they found their way into the red-zone for the first time in the game. Unfortunately for Houston, their momentum was stifled as Yates made a bad throw intended for wide receiver Will Fuller V, and Artie Burns intercepted the pass in the back of the end-zone. It was clear, if Houston wanted to get on the board, the passing game was not going to be the way to do it.

After Burns’ interception, Pittsburgh wanted to take advantage on offense. Le’Veon Bell ran the ball effectively against Houston’s injury-plagued defense to put the Steelers in great field position yet again. Pittsburgh lined up in short yardage, and turned to Roosevelt Nix to pound the ball in. The lead continued to build as the Steelers now held Houston to a score of 17 to 0.

On Houston’s next offensive drive, Cam Heyward continued to make plays as he strip sacked T.J. Yates and Bud Dupree came up with the ball to put Pittsburgh back on offense. Le’Veon Bell continued to make things look easy on the ground, and gave Chris Boswell another chance to add to the Steelers score, now 20 to 0.

Houston had one more chance on offense before the first half came to a close, but the red-hot Mike Hilton got to T.J. Yates for his second sack of the game. Yates would be forced to leave the game with a possible head injury, backup quarterback Taylor Heinecke would take over for Yates.

As the second half began, Houston’s ground game continued to do damage against Pittsburgh’s defense. Taylor Heinicke unfortunately didn’t last very long in this game as Mike Hilton got his third sack of the game, this time for a 17-yard loss. Heinicke was injured on the play and Houston turned to T.J. Yates to take over once again.

The next score came later in the quarter, Pittsburgh continued to run the ball at will using both Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell to make their way downfield. Bell made a great play and cut through Houston’s defense to get the ball into the end-zone for another Pittsburgh touchdown, giving them a lead of 27 to 0.

DeAndre Hopkins ended the third quarter with Houston’s biggest passing play of the game with a 37-yard gain. Hopkins showed his dominant ability on this drive, as he reeled in an absolutely unbelievable one-handed catch to give Houston their first score of the game. You don’t have to be a Texans fan to appreciate this play as Hopkins showed great concentration to make the catch and get both feet inbounds. Unfortunately for Houston, they did not complete the two-point conversion, and they would continue to trail 27 to 6.

Pittsburgh’s next offensive drive would prove to be the dagger, when Juju Smith-Schuster came alive! Juju came up with a huge reception of 49 yards on a deep pass from Big Ben, then followed the big play with a wide-open 17-yard touchdown reception. Pittsburgh would finish the game with a dominant 34 to 6 victory over Houston to lock up a 1st round bye in the postseason.

This game was never really a contest for Pittsburgh, as they nearly shut Houston out on their home turf. Pittsburgh’s passing leader was, of course, Ben Roethlisberger as he completed 20 of 29 passes for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell lead the ground attack with 14 rushing attempts for 69 yards and a touchdown, also added 5 receptions for 28 yards. Pittsburgh leading receiver was Juju Smith-Schuster with 6 receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. Mike Hilton and the defense were the key factor in this game, as Hilton tied Sean Spence and Vinny Williams with 6 tackles, but had an insane 3 sacks in the game. Cameron Heyward continued to prove why he deserved a spot in the Pro Bowl with 2 sacks in the game. Artie Burns also contributed to the team’s great defensive showing with his clutch interception in the second quarter.

Pittsburgh will finish up the regular season at home as they host the winless Cleveland Browns next Sunday.

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