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Houston Texans

Texans vs. Steelers, Week 4 | Big Play Breakdown


1st Quarter - 8:58 remaining

2nd and goal - Texans ball

+Two Yard line

No Score…for now.

The Texans had already scored twice on this opening first quarter drive. C.J. Stroud's scramble was called a TD, then overturned. Dameon Pierce's screen catch and run for a touchdown was also called back. A penalty pushed the Texans back all the way to the ten yard line, but a DPI called on the Steelers covering Brevin Jordan put the ball back at two. I've seen this situation a few different times over the years for the Texans offense and seen way too many field goals or turnovers on downs. This time was different. The Texans came out in a tight bunch to the right side and Nico Collins in a condensed split to the left side. Stroud faked the ball to Dameon Pierce on a zone run as TE Dalton Schultz crossed the formation to block the Steelers edge rusher. The play action drew the LB into the LOS and the Schultz crossing action drew Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick to the LOS as well. That opened a window right over the US in Houston in the end zone for Stroud to flip one to Collins for the TD…and one that finally counted. Nico whipped the DB inside and the TD catch was just easy. 7-0 Texans.

1st Quarter - 5:04 remaining

2nd and 18 - Steelers ball

-32 yard line

Texans lead 7-0

After the big score, the Texans defense came through in a big way. DE Jerry Hughes came up with a huge sack to put the Steelers behind the sticks. On 2nd and 18, the Steelers also came out with a tight bunch set to the left side and WR George Pickens alone on the right side. Steelers QB Kenny Pickett was in the shotgun. Now, rewind back one week to the Steelers win over the Raiders on Sunday night. The Steelers hit speedy WR Calvin Austin deep for a 72-yard touchdown that helped give the Steelers a 23-18 win last week. So, the Steelers dialed up that same exact route again. The Texans looked like they were playing quarters, which essentially put Steven Nelson man-to-man once Austin ran deep on the post route. Nelson COULD NOT HAVE played that route any better. When Pickett launched deep to Austin, Nelson jumped over the top and stole the ball away for his second interception on the season. I mean, that was as good an interception as I've seen in person in quite some time. Nelson has been ridiculously good but that play was BEYOND GOOD!

3rd Quarter - 1:16 remaining

4th and one - Steelers ball

+33 yard line

Texans lead 16-6

After the Steelers cut the lead to 16-6, they got the ball back and started another drive that has some possibilities. But, the Texans held strong to set up a fourth and one in Texans territory. I initially thought the Steelers would kick a field goal to cut the lead to 16-9. Then, I thought about what I would do and it jived with Mike Tomlin's thoughts too. He sent his offense back on the field to go for it on fourth down. I 100000% expected the Steelers to run Najee Harris behind two massive linemen on the left side. Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans expected the same thing. But, the Steelers came out in a 3x1 set with Najee Harris next to QB Pickett in the shotgun. SAY WHAAATT??? The Steelers are going to throw it?!? Yes. Pickett immediately eyed the routes out of the bunch, but the Texans defenders locked all three of those routes down. Then, as DT Nico Collins started to squirm through, Pickett spun out to his left side to try to get the ball out to Harris in the flat with Christian Harris in coverage. There were really no positives for Pickett - he had no one open, he had no room to run and the play was about to die because Jonathan Greenard didn't lose contain. The new father just wrapped Pickett up and took him to the ground as NRG Stadium went nuts as the Steelers drive ended in Greenard arms - his second sack of the day.

4th Quarter - 10:56 remaining, ensuing Texans offensive possession

2nd and Goal - Texans ball

+6 yard line

Texans lead 16-6

Texans RB Devin Singletary 'motored' down to the six yard line on a pair of runs setting up the most fun play of the game. I was right there watching the play taking place and the Texans sent three tight ends in the game on second down. RB Dameon Pierce started to go into the game, but as RB coach/Assistant head coach Danny Barrett heard the play call from OC Bobby Slowik, he sent Singletary back to the huddle. The Texans put a YY wing on the right side with Stroud under center. He took the ball and flipped the ball with his right hand as if he were Darian Hagan running the triple option at Colorado in the 1990s. Devin Singletary took the pitch and didn't have any body lean down the field, so I immediately whispered to Marc Vandermeer "HE'S THROWING IT!" I've seen that before in the exact same spot from Arian Foster back in 2014. Singletary waited until he could see TE Dalton Schultz open and fired a spiral to Schultz for the game deciding play. The sideline went absolutely bonkers as the Texans took a 23-6 lead and it was over…but there was a final nugget left.

4th Quarter - 3:46 remaining

3rd and six - Texans ball

-48 yard line

Texans 23-6

The Texans were in the process of finishing the game, picking up first downs and draining the clock. So, with a third and six with just under four minutes left, the Texans came out in 11 personnel and put Tryps (TE, two WR) to the left side and, again, WR Nico Collins to the right side. On the snap, C.J. Stroud eyed Collins all the way. Nico stacked DB Patrick Peterson off the line of scrimmage as he went vertically up the field and then turned his route to the corner. Stroud floated one toward the sideline as Collins sprinted down the field with Peterson trailing. Collins reached out and reeled the pass in and then beat everyone to the end zone for his second TD of the day. 30-6. BALL. GAME.

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