The Houston Texans fell, 28-21, to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field. After gaining a lead by halftime, Houston was held scoreless in the final two quarters.
Deshaun Watson got off to a fast start, completing 14-of-18 for 202 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 150.5 passer rating before the intermission. In the second half, an interception proved costly as the Steelers would take the lead for good with a touchdown and 2-point conversion.
"Offensively, we have to do a much better job in the second half," head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said. 'We ended the first half with a good drive, and then we didn't do anything in the second half. Defense was on the field too long. Defense, you know, they have to get off the field too. Give Pittsburgh credit, they ran the ball well and, you know, we weren't able to do that."
Watson wound up completing 19-of-27 for 264 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 110.7 passer rating. Randall Cobb led the team with 95 yards receiving on four catches. Cobb and Will Fuller, V each caught a touchdown pass while David Johnson scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
"We just didn't find a balance, we didn't establish the run and we just didn't make enough plays, honestly," Watson said. "So things just kind of backfired on us and Pittsburgh made enough plays to score 11 points on us and it went against us."
The Texans defense held Pittsburgh to just 218 net passing yards and finished with two sacks of Ben Roethlisberger, by Charles Omenihu and Carlos Watkins. Benardrick McKinney led with 11 tackles (eight solo). In his first career NFL game with both brothers T.J. and Derek Watt, J.J. finished with four tackles.
"It's all right," Watt said. "Someday we'll look back on it and it will be pretty cool. But right now, sitting at 0-3, it doesn't feel that great. It's a special thing for our family. But right now it's about the Houston Texans and what we need to do to win a football game."
The Texans took an early 7-3 advantage after their second possession. Watson completed deep passes to Brandin Cooks for 20 yards and then Fuller for 17, on back-to-back plays to move into Pittsburgh territory. Cobb scored on a 28-yard catch-and-run to cap off a seven-play, 74-yard drive.
Houston's defense forced three-and-outs on consecutive Steelers' drives. The Texans offense started at their own 46-yard line and took advantage of good field position to start their first drive of the second quarter. Watson threw a 20-yard pass to David Johnson who finished off the drive eight plays later with a two-yard touchdown run. Houston held a 14-3 lead with 11:35 left in the second quarter.
The Steelers scored 14 unanswered points on their next two possessions, taking a 17-14 lead after Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes to tight end Eric Ebron and then JuJu Smith-Schuster.
With just 1:14 remaining in the first half, Watson completed 5-of-5 passes for 75 yards in just 50 seconds to cap off a drive that ended in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Fuller. Houston used all three timeouts to stop the clock, scoring with just 0:28 remaining in the second quarter and heading into the locker room with a 21-17 lead.
Houston's defense held Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to a field goal in the third quarter and then forced a three-and-out on consecutive drives. However, after Pittsburgh picked off Watson, the Steelers scored the go-ahead touchdown to regain the lead.
"I tried to make plays in the fourth quarter, made one earlier in the drive and it was third-and-long again and tried to make a play," Watson said. "Mike Hilton did a good job of getting in front of Kenny (Stills). Really, (I) was trying to throw to Will but it slipped out when I was getting hit. It sailed and it was going toward Kenny and Mike Hilton made a good play, but we can kind of consider that as a punt because if he would have dropped it, we would have punted it from the 50."
The Steelers drove down the field to score on a James Conner 12-yard touchdown run. Roethlisberger completed a pass to Schuster for a successful two-point conversion.
The Texans fell to 0-3 on the season and will host the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4.