Vince Williams – Williams had a sack in the first quarter and put a nice hit on David Johnson for a tackle for a loss of 2 yards. Williams has a league-high eight tackles for a loss this season.
Eric Ebron – With the Steelers trailing 14-3 in the second quarter, the Steelers answered the Texans touchdown and had a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Roethlisberger off play-action completed to Ebron for 17 yards to Houston’s 30-yard line and then five plays later Roethlisberger connected with Ebron for a 10-yard touchdown on third-and-goal. Ebron finished the game with five receptions for a team-high 52 yards and a touchdown, an average of 10.4 yards per reception.
Anthony McFarland Jr. – McFarland finally got some touches and he took advantage of the opportunity. McFarland rushed for 42 yards on six carries, an average of 7 yards per carry and a long of 20 yards. Hopefully moving forward the coaching staff gives McFarland more touches and replaces Samuels as the No. 3 running back.
Chuks Okorafor – Three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt lined up over Okorafor for most of the game and had just four total tackles (one solo), no sacks and quarterback hits or tackles for a loss. Okorafor looked really solid and held his own against a premier player like Watt. From what we have seen so far, it looks like Okorafor has a promising future with the Steelers.
Run defense – The Steelers’ run defense continues to be phenomenal this year. Houston rushed for just 29 yards on 15 carries, an average of 1.9 yards per carry. David Johnson scored on a 2-yard touchdown, but that was the only positive from the Texans' run offense. It's the second time this year that the Steelers have held an offense to 29 yards rushing in a game. In Week 1, the Giants rushed for 29 yards on 20 carries, an average of 1.5 per carry.
James Conner – Conner and the offensive line took over in the second half and started to impose their will on the weak Texans’ run defense. Conner rushed for 109 yards on 18 carries and had a touchdown, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. It’s the second consecutive game that Conner has rushed over 100 yards and the Steelers have had a 100-plus yard rusher in every game this season. Conner also had four receptions for 40 yards, a total of 22 touches for 148 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. The Steelers controlled the game by running the ball efficiently and outperformed the Texans in first downs 25-13, total plays 76-47 and time of possession 36:51-23:09. The Steelers rushed for a season-high 169 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry.
T.J. Watt/pass rush – Watt continues to dominate this season and came up huge in the "Watt Bowl" with four total tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss and four quarterback hits. The Steelers sacked Watson five times and had 12 quarterback hits. The Steelers have had at least one sack in 60 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL and tied for the third-longest streak in NFL history.
Stephon Tuitt – Tuitt made some noise today after having a quiet game last week, recording four total tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hits.
Ben Roethlisberger – A solid performance by Roethlisberger today as he was 23 of 36 (63.9%) for 237 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, a quarterback rating of 101.3. Roethlisberger was on target for most of the afternoon and was efficient when targeting his big tight end Ebron, who had five receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Roethlisberger’s stat line wasn’t helped by his intended receivers at times as there were some drops. The one big key area that Roethlisberger executed well was that he didn’t throw any interceptions and the offense overall didn’t turn the ball over, which is the first time that the offense didn’t have at least one turnover in 25 consecutive games. On the flip side, the Texans have not forced a turnover in three games this season.
Team discipline – The Steelers were penalized just two times for 14 yards. Last week they had 10 penalties for 89 yards against Denver. Tomlin brought in the officials this week to help clean up in that area. It paid off today.
Pass defense – Mike Hilton got beat by Randall Cobb for 28-yard catch-and-run touchdown on third-and-8 in the first quarter. On the play prior, Watson had a wide-open Brandin Cooks, but he overthrew him. Linebacker Vince Williams was in coverage and it would have been a touchdown. Early in the second quarter, Watson led the Texans on a 9-play, 54-yard scoring drive. Watson had two huge third-down completions on the drive, one which he avoided pressure and connected with Kenny Stills for nine yards to set up first and goal. On the next play, David Johnson practically just walked in for the score to give Houston a 14-3 lead. After the Steelers took a 17-14 lead late in the second quarter. Watson drove down the field on a 5-play, 75-yard scoring drive which took just 50 seconds off the clock. Watson was 5-of-5 on the drive and capped it off with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller. The Texans had five 20-plus yard passing plays in the first half. The pass defense and the unit as a whole played a lot better in the second half, shutting the Texans completely out on the scoreboard and Hilton picked off Watson early in the fourth quarter which led to a 12-play, 79-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 12-yard game-winning touchdown run by James Conner. Roethlisberger completed to Smith-Schuster for the score on the two-point conversion and the Steelers took a 28-21 lead that they wouldn’t squander. The scoring drive took 7:03 off the clock. Watson was 14 of 18 for 202 yards and had two touchdowns in the first half but was 5 of 9 for just 62 yards with an interception in the second half.
Dropped passes – The skill players certainly didn’t help Roethlisberger out today when it came to catching the ball. Some just went right through the hands of the intended target like James Washington and Conner’s drop on consecutive plays in the third quarter, which the Steelers would settle for a field goal on the drive. And others were contested catches but they just couldn’t come up with the grab like when Claypool couldn’t come up with the catch on consecutive plays in the third quarter. Overall an impressive day for the skill players, but they just got to shore up on catching the ball better.