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fordfixer
09-08-2008, 01:37 AM
Texans shoot themselves in foot
By Richard Justice
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Monday, September 8, 2008

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 87048.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_587048.html)


It's not just that the Texans lost badly. Lord knows, there have been plenty of other ugly losses.

Other teams have been tougher and better coached than the Texans. Other teams have rattled the quarterback into making bad throws.

Other teams have beaten up the Texans so badly that the contest is pretty much settled by halftime. That's what happened Sunday afternoon as the Steelers won, 38-17.

"It was bad, it was ugly, it was embarrassing, but it's just one game," N.D. Kalu said.

Pay no attention to the final score because it doesn't tell you how bad this beating really was. The Steelers were up 35-3 after three quarters, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin began pulling his starters.

"We got manhandled," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It just kind of snowballed."

The Steelers won in a way that may look worse the more Kubiak and his staff look at it. The Texans were prepared for almost everything the Steelers threw at them. They knew this was going to be a street fight, that the team that ran the ball and pressured the quarterback was going to win.

The Steelers lined up and blew the Texans off the ball, rolling up 183 rushing yards and averaging 4.7 yards per carry. They also kept constant pressure on Matt Schaub.

In other words, in a game that was going to be decided by muscle and will, the Texans didn't have enough of either.

"Any time the other team takes out its starters in the fourth quarter, it's embarrassing," Travis Johnson said. "At the same time, you've got to learn from it. You can't dwell on it. Tomorrow, we've got to go back to the drawing board and get better."

Pressure isn't why Schaub had a terrible day. He threw two interceptions and almost had a third. On a day when the Texans needed to be almost perfect to have any chance of winning, Schaub never gave his teammates a chance.

And that brings us to why this game stings so badly. This is the franchise's seventh opening day and the third for this coaching staff.

These kinds of things aren't supposed to be happening at this point. Maybe the Texans weren't supposed to win, but they weren't supposed to be blown off the field, either.

That's the exact thought that occurred to some of the veterans during a third quarter in which the Steelers drove 71 and 80 yards for touchdowns, throwing just three passes in the process.

"I was really expecting not to have this feeling ever again," Chester Pitts said. "I'm embarrassed."

Defensively, the Texans could have guessed this kind of day was coming after a preseason in which both their defensive linemen and cornerbacks got beat up.

Let's be clear about what we saw. The Steelers no longer have a great offensive line.

What they do have is a commitment to running the ball, a great running back (Willie Parker) and a quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) that doesn't make the kind of mistakes Schaub made.

Kubiak opened the game with a gamble. Good for him. The Texans took the opening kickoff and drove from their won 21 to the Pittsburgh 48.

On fourth-and-one, he went for it. Schaub was stuffed on a quarterback sneak, but Kubiak did the right thing.

It's about time the Texans played with some swagger. There was no use coming in and being afraid.

Unfortunately, his decision gave the Steelers a short field, and that's the last thing they needed, as they drove for touchdowns on their first three possessions and five of eight.

Kubiak seemed more distraught than angry after the game. He said he was going to begin the review process by focusing on himself, then was going to ask each player to look himself in the mirror.

The problem may be that the Texans simply aren't good enough on defense. Mario Williams had a tremendous day, but he didn't have nearly enough help.

Had Kubiak not gone for the first down, had Schaub not made the bad throws, had the score been close enough to allow Ahman Green (5 carries, 28 yards) more opportunities, it could have been closer.

If this. If that. Doesn't it seem like we've been saying those things forever? Maybe next week will be different.

"You've got to be able to bounce back in this league from getting your tail kicked," Kubiak said. "We got our tail kicked today."

BigBen2112
09-08-2008, 07:17 AM
Wow, a team that loses and doesn't make a ton of excuses. Almost a comforting thought.

RuthlessBurgher
09-08-2008, 09:32 AM
I still think they can challenge for a wild card spot if Schaub and Johnson stay healthy. One game does not a season make. They still have Williams and Ryans and Okoye on defense, and should be getting Dunta Robinson back in another month or so. I picked Buffalo to get the last WC before the season started, but stated Houston would have been my team in that spot if they weren't in a much tougher division than the AFC East.