Texans-Steelers: The positives

The Texans were thoroughly dominated by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field. For fans, players, coaches and observers alike, It was a shocking and disappointing start to a season filled with so much promise after the Texans reached the 8-8 plateau for the first time in franchise history last season. Not until there were less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the game did the Texans find the end zone, and by that point Pittsburgh had already done so five times.

But I'll try to end my night, and your night if you're still awake and reading this, on a good note by extracting some positives from the game. First, Mario Williams was fantastic. He's a pure monster on the field, and he's going to cause a lot of nightmares for a lot of quarterbacks for years to come. Second, DeMeco Ryans is every bit as good as we've come to expect him to be. He had 12 tackles in the game, two of which were for a loss. Linebacker Zac Diles also was impressive in his first start, besting Ryans and every other player in Sunday's game with 13 tackles.

On offense, Andre Johnson didn't even seem like he had a great game, but he still managed to sneak his way to 10 catches for 112 yards. He caught third-down conversions, long bombs, short passes, intermediate passes. He made one catch despite getting hit so hard that his shoe fell off. He's simply one of the best in the business. Here's to hoping he starts getting more of the respect that he deserves.

Quarterback Matt Schaub finished with poise after getting off to a tough start in that first half. The Texans' two touchdowns near the end of the game should give him something to build on heading into Week 2.

Tight end Owen Daniels showed a lot of grit with a tough 14-yard grab late in the fourth quarter, and should be a key cog in the Texans' attack again this year.

Rookie running back Steve Slaton didn't end up with great numbers, but he runs with determination - not to mention a lot of speed. Veteran back Ahman Green made it through the game healthy. He only got five carries, but he's healthy. And he showed some nice moves, including on a team-long run of 14 yards. His workload should increase starting this week against Baltimore. And, once again, he's healthy. Texans coach Gary Kubiak eased him into action tonight because Green had missed a couple of weeks of practice time recovering from a strained groin.

On special teams, Kris Brown continues to ride the wave of consistency he's been on since late in the 2006 season. He's practically automatic on field goals. Also, punt returner Jacoby Jones held on to the ball. That's a positive because it wasn't a negative. Jones was plagued by fumble problems in the preseason, but he didn't let it go this afternoon, even when he got rocked hard by the Steelers' coverage unit on one of his first returns of the game.

Of course, as the final score would indicate, there were a lot of negatives to come out of this game. But that's for Kubiak to discuss tomorrow during his weekly press conference - which, of course, you can catch live on Texans TV at 3:30 p.m.

Three more positives: Indianapolis lost to Chicago. Jacksonville lost to Tennessee. And with Titans quarterback Vince Young looking like he might be out for 2-4 weeks with an injury, the Titans are standing on unstable ground. So all hope is not lost for the Texans to compete in the AFC South. It was, after all, one game of 16. And Houston is in a three-way tie for second in the division, only one game behind the leader.

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