Coming off an absolutely brutal loss to the Cleveland Browns, Steelers fans had an extra two days to wallow in their misery as we waited for Monday night. There was a lot of trepidation in the fanbase heading into this game, and for good reason. All we heard all week was how JJ Watt was an unstoppable monster who was going to live in Ben Roethlisberger's kitchen for 60 minutes on Monday Night.
Gardell was jacked up.
When the game finally rolled around, it started in about the worst possible way. The Steelers got near midfield but stalled out after Ben overthrew Bryant on a deep ball and couldn't connect with Wheaton. After converting an early 3rd down inside their own 10, the Texans marched right down the field with Arian Foster absolutely gashing the defense. The Steelers were totally on their heels and had no match for the Texans who had only scored first quarter points against Oakland this season. Houston made it look easy and cashed in a touchdown on their first drive, giving the game a "here we go again" feeling.
This is not going to be good for the Steelers. #analysis
— Matthew Marczi (@mmarczi) October 21, 2014
The Steelers got the benefit of a bad pass by Fitzpatrick but Houston was close enough to extend the lead to 10.
Things went from bad to worse after the Steelers pulled out the motif offense and went run-run-pass-punt. The fans booed the team off the field and honestly, you couldn't blame them. Everything was broken.
Dick LeBeau has been a defensive coordinator for a long time, but I don't think he's ever seen a puke and rally executed like the Steelers did. With the Texans driving into Steelers territory, Lawrence Timmons summed up the feelings of Steelers Nation and yakked all over the field before a play. He continued blowing chunks as he ran off the field. His replacement Vince Williams made a big tackle on 3rd down on the next play and held the Texans to 3.
this is what double the tackles of anyone else on the steelers looks like. https://t.co/UoBwplip2V
— OneForTheOtherThumb (@OFTOT) October 21, 2014
The Steelers were bottled up in their own territory and Ben got sacked by Watt on the first play. But we got a gift when Watt was offsides on 3rd down and got another shot at a conversion. Ben hit The Prescription on a check-down and he made some moves and broke out down the sideline for 40 yards. That was the breath of life the offense needed and Heath caught a pass on the sideline to get us into field goal range.
At this point, the feeling was pretty much "Well, at least we won't get shut out." There wasn't much positivity happening until Timmons continued his puke and rally effort by sacking Fitzpatrick.
Then it happened. Coming out of the two minute warning, Ben hit The Prescription who scampered for 30 yards down the sideline then took a shot down the field for Martavis Bryant.
The Texans were just trying to run out the clock but Jason Worlids knocked the ball out of Foster's hands and Sean Spence recovered.
The Steelers went to the ol' Antwan Randle El play and Ben pitched it to AB who turned back in his tracks and with JJ Watt in his face threw a laser to Lance Moore cutting across the back of the end zone.
.@AntonioBrown84 is the most interesting player in the NFL... pic.twitter.com/WJnqYuSlbu
— SportsNation (@SportsNation) October 21, 2014
Bill O'Brien forgot he had Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB and called a pass play that was tipped by Keisel, batted around and fell back into The Diesel's hands.
Two plays later, Ben hit The Prescription on a short out for six.
What. Just. Happened.
Steelers: only team in last decade to score 3 TD in final 90 seconds of a half
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 21, 2014
21 points in 1:45 of game time. Unreal.
Only other game I see since 1999 with 21+ points by one team at end of half was this Texans/Dolphins game in 2012: http://t.co/108cCoNAOP
— ProFootballReference (@pfref) October 21, 2014
Seriously, literal shock and awe. It was like someone woke the ghosts of the 2008 Steelers defense.
Up until the end of the second quarter, the best analogy for the Steelers defense would be something from the Walking Dead. They were basically a bunch of corpses just walking around hoping they ran into someone. But something changed in those last two minutes. Those corpses turned into warriors. James Harrison, Brett Keisel and even Troy Polamalu started to look like previous iterations of themselves. The fans knew it too. They went from booing the team off the field after 18 minutes of play to a "Here We Go" Steelers chant as the team came out after halftime.
The defense came out on a mission and forced a 3-and-out, stopping Foster twice on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1.
The offense got to midfield and tried the flea-flicker again but Ben overthrew AB who was double-covered. Nothing else happened. The teams traded punts for the rest of the quarter, making you question if this was real life and the outburst at the end of the second actually happened.
Two penalties on the Houston defense helped us get to midfield where Ben hit AB down the sideline who made a great catch and kept his feet in bounds. Houston challenged but it just cost them a timeout. Ben went back to the well and seemingly hit AB for a touchdown but it was overturned by the replay official. AB was not too happy on Twitter afterwards.
Apologies for cursing the refs but dang pic.twitter.com/7c0LQYcbon
— Antonio Brown (@AntonioBrown84) October 21, 2014
The Steelers extended their lead on a Suisham field goal.
The Texans looked poised to get it right back when Fitzpatrick hit DeAndre Hopkins across the middle but Mike Mitchell made a play resembling that of an actual NFL safety and stripped the ball out. Troy Polamalu recovered and all of a sudden the hair was flowing as he was bouncing and weaving his way back up the field.
Renegade drive turnover, the ghosts of 2008 have risen.
— The Steelers n'at (@thesteelersnat) October 21, 2014
The offense didn't do much but the turnover was huge for the defense and Suisham tacked on 3 more.
At this point, everything seemed on cruise control. James Harrison got a roughing the passer penalty because he hadn't gotten one yet this year. The Texans picked their way down the field and scored with a minute and a half to go.
There was a moment of terror when the onside kick was bouncing around like crazy and no one could find it but Michael Palmer finally fell on it and sent us home.
#Steelers WR Antonio Brown (@AntonioBrown84) joins Hines Ward (10) & Louis Lipps (4) as 3rd in team history w/ 4straight years of 50+catches
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) October 21, 2014
Antonio Brown is 3rd player in NFL history w/ 9 receptions AND a Pass TD in a game (James Wilder in 1984, Jerry Rice in 1995). @EliasSports
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 21, 2014
What a picture.