Sunday, Sept. 7 - 3:39 p.m. PITTSBURGH -
With 6:18 left to play, Houston is challenging the ruling on what was ruled a fumble by Schaub that Pittsburgh recovered. The Texans are contesting that it should have been ruled an incomplete pass.
Our blog on HoustonTexans.com is shutting it down for the day. Stay tuned to HoustonTexans.com after the game for interviews with head coach Gary Kubiak and the rest of the team.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 3:34 p.m. PITTSBURGH -It took 51 minutes, but the Texans finally found the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Schaub to Kevin Walter to bring the score to 35-10 with nine minutes to play. Schaub threaded the needle on the throw to find Walter, who made a tough catch in the back of the end zone.
Rookie running back Steve Slaton had a couple of nice runs leading up to the score, showing his elusiveness and ability to shed tacklers.
Schaub finally got in a rhythm, hitting three different receivers on the drive. He might have found Andre Johnson in the end zone a couple of plays earlier on second-and-eight from the 24 had Steelers safety Ryan Clark not tackled Johnson near the goal line while the ball was still in the air. The pass interference penalty gave Houston the ball at their own five-yard line, but a tripping penalty on rookie left tackle Duane Brown backed the Texans up prior to Schaub's scoring toss.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 3:16 p.m. PITTSBURGH -Looks like I was wrong; the Texans never made it past the 50 as two incompletions led to another Matt Turk punt. Turk prevented what easily could have been a blocked punt after the snap bounced off the field before it reached him.
Byron Leftwich is now in at quarterback for the Steelers.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 3:12 p.m. PITTSBURGH -Pittsburgh held the ball for 11:26 in the third quarter. The Texans were in possession for only 3:34.
Houston is about to be in what has been unfamiliar territory in this game - the Steelers' side of the field. A nice 14-yard run by Ahman Green has the Texans at midfield with a second-and-seven to start the fourth quarter. Houston trails 35-3.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 3:05 p.m. PITTSBURGH -The rout is on as Roethlisberger just hit Hines Ward for a touchdown to make the score 35-3 with 2:04 to play in the third quarter. Roethlisberger is a near-pristine 13-of-14 for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
The only Houston fans that might be even mildly happy about Steelers running back Willie Parker's performance today are those that have him on their fantasy teams. He's run wild against the Texans, with 25 carries for 138 yards (5.5 avg.) and a career-high three touchdowns.
On the injury front, Texans defensive end Stanley McClover, just signed by the Texans this past week, suffered a right knee injury. His return is questionable.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 2:50 p.m. PITTSBURGH -A defensive stand to start the second half could've swung the momentum in Houston's favor, but Pittsburgh just marched down the field for another touchdown, running all over the Texans on a 71-yard scoring drive. The Steelers ran the ball on nine out of 10 plays on the drive, which ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Willie Parker. It was Parker's third score of the day. Steelers 28, Texans 3.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 2:35 p.m. PITTSBURGH -The Texans went into the locker room at halftime with a 21-3 deficit. Pittsburgh will receive the ball to start the second half.
Quarterback Matt Schaub had a stellar preseason, but he wasn't himself in the first half. Though he completed 12-of-17 (71 percent) passes for 80 yards, he was sacked twice and threw two interceptions to give him a 40.9 quarterback rating at the half. He had a Texans franchise-record 87.2 quarterback rating in his first season as starter last year, and he'll have to get back to that level for the Texans to have a chance to mount a comeback in the second half.
Schaub's timing with his receivers was off in the first half, as he missed badly on a few throws, including his two picks. He also appeared to have a miscommunication with wideout David Anderson on an incompletion on third down on the Texans' final possession of the first half. I'd expect him to look for Andre Johnson more in the second half; they were lethal on the first drive but didn't connect much after that.
The Texans' running game hasn't done much, either, with the Texans averaging 2.5 yards a carry on 10 attempts.
Mario Williams seems on his way to the Pro Bowl already, with five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in his first two quarters of the season. Linebacker Zac Diles, a new starter this season in his second year in the league, leads the Texans with six tackles at the half. DeMeco Ryans, whose 283 tackles the 2006 and 2007 seasons were the most in the NFL, has five tackles and a fumble recovery.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 2:15 p.m. PITTSBURGH - Mario Williams is doing everything in his power to bring the Texans back in this one. Williams recorded his second sack of the game, burying Roethlisberger for a 12-yard loss on third-and-two from the Pittsburgh 39 to lead to a Pittsburgh punt. It's the fourth time in Williams' young career that he has multiple sacks in one game.
If the Texans can mount a scoring drive to close out the half, they'll feel a lot better about their chances heading into the locker room.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 2:10 p.m. PITTSBURGH - Kicker Kris Brown finally put the Texans on the scoreboard with a 34-yard field goal. He's now scored in 68 consecutive games dating back to 2003.
The Texans were unable to find the end zone after losing four yards on three offensive plays in the red zone.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 2:02 p.m. PITTSBURGH - The mistakes were piling up for the Texans after Matt Schaub's second interception, but leave it to Super Mario to save the day. Williams pummeled Roethlisberger from behind deep in Texans territory, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Texans' other All-Pro selection from a year ago, linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Ryans ran the ball back 41 yards to the Pittsburgh 26, and a facemasking penalty on Willie Parker gave the Texans first-and-10 on the Pittsburgh 12.
It was the first sack of the season for Williams, who tied for third in the NFL with 14 sacks last season. He now has 19.5 sacks in his career, the Texans' franchise record.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 1:54 p.m. PITTSBURGH - This game has gotten ugly in a hurry for the Texans. Defensive tackle Travis Johnson was called for a facemask penalty on the last drive, the second against Houston's defense this game, giving the Steelers' offense some extra yardage leading up to Hines Ward's 13-yard touchdown reception to make the score 21-0. The Steelers have 10 first downs to the Texans' four, and they've outgained Houston in total yards 149-55.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 1:50 p.m. PITTSBURGH - Though André Davis only got 24 yards on his last kickoff return, his speed is so prevalent that one can't help but get the feeling he has the chance to break one for a long return at some point in this game. With the way Houston's offense looks (including the interception Matt Schaub just threw to Lamarr Woodley and third-and-four from the Houston 34), they might need Davis to make a big play to spark a turnaround.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 1:45 p.m. PITTSBURGH - On the first play of the Steelers' second drive, the Texans got what appeared to be a make-up call when receiver Hines Ward was flagged for offensive pass interference on linebacker DeMeco Ryans, negating what would have been a 70-plus yard gain down to inside the Texans' five yard line. Texans safety C.C. Brown was flagged for facemasking on the play, so the penalties offset and gave Pittsburgh first down again from their own 24-yard line.
The Texans were playing solidly against the run until Willie Parker dashed into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown run to put the Steelers up 14-0 with 11:00 left in the first half. Before that play, they had limited Parker to 20 yards on eight carries.
Houston got a near break on the drive when cornerback Fred Bennett forced Holmes to fumble the ball after a 10-yard gain, but the ball went out of bounds near the 11-yard line. The Texans haven't been able to stop the Steelers on third down. Roethlisberger has been picking apart the defense, in particular with throws over the middle to tight end Heath Miller.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 1:32 p.m. PITTSBURGH - Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are showing just how dangerous of a duo they can be. Schaub found Johnson for a six-yard gain on third down and two from the Houston 28. He then scrambled to avoid a pass rush and found a leaping Johnson for a 24-yard strike in traffic, moving the Texans down to the Pittsburgh 42. Johnson's shoe came off on the play, but he still managed to make the grab.
The running game also showed some signs of life on the drive. Steve Slaton and Ahman Green both had eight-yard gains. We still haven't seen Chris Taylor get a carry.
The Texans were forced to punt after Schaub was sacked twice in three plays. Matt Turk hung a booming punt that pinned the Steelers at their 24-yard line.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 1:25 p.m. PITTSBURGH -After a very questionable call that gave the Steelers the football near midfield, their offense marched down the field on an eight-play, 52-yard scoring drive that took 4:48 off the clock. Houston got Pittsburgh into third down twice on the drive, but the Steelers found a way to move the chains both times. The big play of the drive was on the first third down, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scrambled 17 yards on a third-and-four from the Houston 46.
Then, on third-and-three from the Houston 22, cornerback Jacques Reeves had wideout Santonio Holmes blanketed on third-and-three from the 22, but Roethlisberger made a perfect throw for a nine-yard completion to give Pittsburgh another first down. Willie Parker then scored on a seven-yard run on second-and-four from the seven, thanks in part to a missed tackle by Fred Bennett.
Steelers kicker Jeff Reed's big leg is neutralizing the return threat that is Andre' Davis. His first kickoff went seven yards deep into the end zone, and his next kick just bounced out of the back of the end zone. The Texans will start their second drive from their own 20.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 1:13 p.m. PITTSBURGH -Talk about a questionable spot. It appeared Matt Schaub fell forward for a first down on fourth-and-one from the Pittsburgh 48. When they pulled the chains out, the officials measured it short of the first down by a few inches. Texans coach Gary Kubiak is livid, reaming the officials on the field with his red challenge flag in his hand. After much deliberation and arguing with the officials, Kubiak decided to throw the flag and challenge the spot. On replays on TV, it looks clear that Schaub got the first down.
Houston was only successful on one of nine challenges last season. Hopefully, if the call is reversed, that luck will start to change with this call.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 1:01 p.m. PITTSBURGH -Houston won the toss and will receive.
As a reminder, the Texans' captains for the 2008 season are: Matt Schaub (below) and Andre Johnson on offense, Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans on defense and Kris Brown on special teams. Each player will wear the "C" patch on their jersey throughout the year.
Each team also will wear "GU" logos on the front left of their jerseys, honoring Gene Upshaw, a Hall of Fame player as an Oakland Raider and the director of the NFL Players' Association and Hall of Fame. Upshaw passed away on Aug. 20.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 12:45 p.m. PITTSBURGH -The Steelers did a pregame tribute to former Pittsburgh greats Dwight White and Ernie Holmes, as well as legendary Steelers announcer Myron Cope. All three passed away this year. A silent Terrible Towel salute and a moment of silence is being held in their honor.
Kickoff is 15 minutes away.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 11:31 a.m. PITTSBURGH -There are no changes to the starting lineup for either team. Here are the inactives for the game:
26 CB Eugene Wilson
34 S Dominique Barber
52 LB Xavier Adibi
64 G Kasey Studdard
78 T Rashad Butler (Ephraim Salaam is healthy and will serve as the Texans' swing tackle off the bench)
93 DE Tim Bulman
96 DE Earl Cochran
97 DT Frank Okam
2 QB Dennis Dixon (third QB)
14 WR Limas Sweed
27 S Anthony Smith
33 RB Gary Russell
49 TE Sean McHugh
53 LB Bruce Davis
66 T Tony Hillis
96 DE Orpheus Roye
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 11:24 a.m. PITTSBURGH -Click here to see photos taken of the Texans warming up on the field prior to the game.
We should have the inactives list in the next 10 minutes or so.
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 11:07 a.m. PITTSBURGH - Just got back from the field. I mentioned the Harry Williams t-shirts the Texans are wearing today during warmups. Here's Mario Williams sporting one:
Sunday, Sept. 7 - 10:41 a.m.
PITTSBURGH - Here we go... two-and-a-half hours until the Texans' 2008 season kicks off at Heinz Field.
It's a beautiful day in Pittsburgh... 77 degrees, clear sky and humidity-free air (compared to Houston, at least).
Some of the Texans players have started to take the field for warmups. The players are wearing white t-shirts with "HW 86" on the front in honor of injured teammate Harry Williams... I'll go down to the field and get some close-up shots of that. Here's a photo from the press box of quarterback Matt Schaub and wideout Andre Johnson, who were a lethal combination at the start of the 2007 season before injuries intervened: