The Houston Texans beat the Pittsburgh Steelers handily, by a score of 30-6 in their first home win since Dec. 26, 2021 against the Los Angeles Chargers. On a day where J.J. Watt's name was lifted up into the Ring of Honor, DeMeco Ryans' squad rose above its numerous offensive line injuries to record 451 net yards of offense while the defense came up with a takeaway and crucial third-down stops.
"It feels awesome to get a win," Head Coach DeMeco Ryans said. "That's what we're here to do. Me coming here, taking this job, this is how we want to play football. We want to play winning football and it starts with the guys in that locker room. I'm proud of what they've done, the work that they've put in throughout the week. We were grinding through some hot days here in Houston. Nobody's complaining. Everybody's working, pressing forward, doing what they need to do to get results on Sunday. And I'm proud of our guys, proud of our staff, everybody. If we keep playing the way we're playing, the results will come."
With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones out at left tackle, the Texans signed second-year offensive lineman Austin Deculus onto the active roster from the practice squad. The offensive line didn't give up a single sack in back-to-back weeks.
C.J. Stroud completed 16-of-30 for 306 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 111.2 passer rating. Stroud has not thrown an interception through the first four games of his NFL career.
Nico Collins caught seven passes for 168 yards receiving, his second 100-yard receiving performance this season, and caught two touchdown passes. Dameon Pierce rushed for 81 yards on 24 carries.
"It's a blessing to be able to be playing and playing decently," Stroud said. "But for me, I mean, it's the guys around me. I can't do anything without those guys balling out. You see the yards after the catch, you see the guys straining up front, me getting the ball out, trying to get the ball out on time, the running backs doing their job, the tight ends doing their job, like everybody's doing their job. And then you add the defense and then you add our special teams, like everybody's playing together. So we got to keep that going. But it's a blessing for sure."
Houston's defense held the Steelers to 225 net yards off offense, 0-of-2 inside the redzone and 0-1 in goal-to-go situations. Jalen Pitre returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a chest injury. LB Christian Harris finished with a team-high 12 tackles (five solo) and CB Steven Nelson had an interception against his former team. QB Kenny Pickett completed 15-of-23 for 114 yards, one interception and a 59.0 passer rating before exiting in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
"Man, the energy was high, but we knew going into this week what type of game this was going to be like," DE Will Anderson said. "The way we practiced this week, the energy was high. Everybody's technique was good this week. The coach pointed out a lot on the film. He is like, I'm excited to see you guys because of the work you put in this weekend."
The Texans took a 16-0 lead in the first half. On the opening drive, Stroud threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Collins to take a 7-0 lead. Stroud and the offense would drive down into the redzone on their next two possessions. Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a trio of field goals, from 36, 38 and 39 yards, to give Houston a two-score lead.
The Steelers didn't move the ball into Houston territory until the third quarter, when they kicked a pair of field goals to get their first points of the game.
"A really big improvement in the red zone," Ryans said. "And they got down there a couple times on us, had a few drives that we allowed them to get down there. But what I'm most proud of is the way our guys stood up in the red zone and made them kick field goals. And that was a big time improvement from where we've been the first couple of weeks. So I'm excited about the improvement, excited about young guys and they're stepping up playing good for us."
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Texans led 16-6 but quickly pulled away after a pair of touchdown catches.
Stroud threw a 19-yard pass to Collins for 14 yards. RB Devin Singletary ran the ball on three consecutive plays before throwing a six-yard touchdown pass to TE Dalton Schultz, his first as a Texan. Houston took a 23-6 lead with 10:50 left in the game. The touchdown capped off a 10-play, 58-yards scoring drive.
Mitch Trubisky entered the game for the Steelers on the next series. Pickett was ruled out with a knee injury.
The Texans offensive line injuries continued to mount. After Kendrick Green was injured in the fourth quarter, Jimmy Morrissey stepped in at left guard. On that same drive, Stroud found Collins for a 52-yard touchdown, his second score of the day, as the Texans took a 30-6 lead with 3:39 left in the game.
Trubisky completed 3-of-5 passes for 18 yards but was unable to lead a scoring drive in the final minutes of the game.
The Texans improve to 2-2 on the season and will travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in Week 5.