Steelers Notebook: Black and gold turning into black and blue
HOUSTON -- The Steelers tossed more players into the their trainer's room Sunday, adding the starting quarterback, the starting running back, a starting linebacker and a starting defensive end to a list that already included four starters who did not play against the Texans.
Ben Roethlisberger has a left foot injury and so does defensive end Aaron Smith. Both left the locker room wearing protective boots, although both finished the game, a 17-10 loss.
Linebacker James Harrison also finished the game after missing the third quarter and part of the second with an eye injury, although he said he will be fine.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore finished the game in the backfield.
Already out of the game against the Texans were two starting linemen, tackle Jonathan Scott and guard Doug Legursky, starting defensive end Brett Keisel and cornerback Bryant McFadden.
Linebacker James Farrior was hurt early in the contest when he made a tackle. The Steelers described it as a "stinger." He returned to play and finished the game. However, he was having trouble pulling on his shirt in the locker room afterward.
Receiver Mike Wallace missed tying an NFL record that goes back to 1961. Coming into the Sunday's contest he had six consecutive 100-yard receiving games and needed one more to tie the record held jointly by the Houston Oilers Charley Hannigan (1961 in the old AFL) and Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.
Wallace got off to a fast start with 77 yards on four receptions in the first half, but he was shut out in the second half. In fact, there wasn't a pass thrown his way in the final two quarters.
Coach Mike Tomlin said that Roethlisberger was just throwing to receivers he found open. Antonio Brown benefitted, catching five of the 10 passes thrown his way for 67 yards.
Hines Ward had one catch for 19 yards, moving into 19th spot on the NFL's all-time receiving yardage chart with 11,838 yards. He moved passed Don Maynard, who has 11,834 yards.
Mendenhall moved into 10th place on the Steelers career list for rushing touchdowns. He tied Walter Abercrombie when he scored his 22nd rushing touchdown Sunday.
The Texans closed the roof of Reliant Stadium for the game with the outside temperature expected to hit 87 degrees. If the temperature is projected to be warmer than 80 or colder than 50, the roof is generally closed.
The Texans' offensive line continued to polish its image as one of the best and most durable in the league.
Starters Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston again cleared space for 155 rushing yards by Arian Foster while allowing no sacks of quarterback Matt Schaub.
It was the third 100-plus yard rushing performance by a Texans running back this season, and the 13th since the beginning of 2010. Last year, the Texans had more such performances than anyone but the Atlanta Falcons -- each team had 10.
"The way they are operating in the run game and pass game, we were able to get the ball out and we were able to get to where the blitzes were coming from and just protect," Schaub said. "They did a great job."
Schaub became the second quarterback in four games to post a passer rating of 100 or better against the Steelers. Schaub, who threw just 21 times Sunday, completed 14 for 138 yards and one touchdown. He was not intercepted. Passer rating: 100.9. Baltimore's Joe Flacco had a 117.6 passer rating in the opener.
Houston running back Foster showed the Steelers how he won the NFL rushing title last season by smashing through their defense for 155 yards on 30 carries. He scored the winning touchdown on a 42-yard run with 12:02 left after making a great cutback move.
"It felt great to have him back in the huddle," quarterback Schaub said of Foster, who missed two of Houston's first three games with a hamstring injury. "What he brings to the run and the pass game is huge."
Houston coach Gary Kubiak credited Foster's running with slowing the Steelers' pass rush. Schaub wasn't sacked, wasn't even hit for that matter. Offensive tackle Winston was among those who were pleased that Foster played.
"To me, he's the best back in the league. I would take him over any back. There's nobody as complete as he is. He catches the ball out of the backfield. His vision in our scheme is unbelievable. He knew exactly where his blocks were. He looked great."
Texans owner Bob McNair called the win "wonderful" and added, "I don't know if we have had a bigger win."
That might not be saying much. This is the Texans' 10th season in the NFL. They have had just one winning season and have failed to reach the playoffs.
"Physically, we have been tough enough, but mentally, sometimes, we haven't," McNair said. "Hopefully, this is an indication that that mental toughness is there."
Kubiak said he saw that same mental toughness when his team was able to overcome nine penalties for 64 yards. The Texans lost a fumble recovery because of an illegal contact penalty and two touchdowns, one after a blocked field goal because of an illegal block and the second on an interception return because of a roughing the passer penalty.
"That just tells you we weren't going to let anything get in our way today," Kubiak said. "A lot of times when those things happen to teams they can't overcome them. But that wasn't the case today."
Kubiak said the Texans beat "a big, physical football team with one of the great defenses in the history of the game."
Added linebacker Mario Williams, "We wanted to come out and prove that going against anybody we could go out there and hold our own."
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the reason Roethlisberger missed a portion of practice Wednesday was to attend to a call regarding the civil suit accusing him of sexual assault which is pending against him in Nevada. Tomlin said after practice that day Roethlisberger left early for a "conference call.'' Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette on Thursday that it was a family matter.
Steelers: QB Dennis Dixon, CB Bryant McFadden, RB Jonathan Dwyer, LB Chris Carter, G Doug Legursky, OT Jonathan Scott, DE Brett Keisel.
Houston: QB T.J. Yates, WR David Anderson, CB Sherrick McManis, CB Kareem Jackson, RB Derrick Ward, G Thomas Austin, OT Andrew Gardner.
First Published October 3, 2011 12:00 am