Pittsburgh 28, Houston 21 came about in a unique way
Heading to Heinz Field, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was 37-3 when leading at halftime. Despite leading 21-20 at the break, Houston's offense endured a shutout in the second half which sealed their fate, losing 28-21 to the Pittsburgh Steelers as they fall to 0-3 for the second time in three seasons.
And something needs to change.
It had all started relatively promisingly. Deshaun Watson finished the first half 14 of 18 for 202 yards with two touchdowns, having gotten Brandin Cooks, David Johnson, Will Fuller, and Randall Cobb in on the action. Spreading the ball around is what this offense is, in principle, designed to do with no clear number one receiver.
And yet, their insistence on running the ball up the middle throughout the second half cost them a much-needed victory. On five rushes during quarters three and four, the Texans rushed for exactly zero yards. This, after a first-half in which they had only rushed for 29 yards.
When the Texans did get some resemblance of momentum together, it came thanks to Watson getting a chance to sling it. Wide Receiver Cobb had a breakout performance for his new team, catching four balls for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Fuller rebounded from a poor Week 2 with 54 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Abandoning their success in the passing game to focus on a struggling run game, against one of the best run defenses in the NFL is a decision that is hard to understand, to say the least.
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Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly will have a lot of questions to answer after another game plan went awry.
But their issues weren't just down to playcalling. The offensive line's play was a problem yet again. Watson was sacked five times in all, that's 13 in three games despite the obvious talent they have up front.
Question marks have long surrounded offensive line coach Mike Devlin's supervision which was always put down to a lack of talented players and consistency among the players.
This time around, we’re not sure that excuse cannot be used.
With the same starters returning from 2019, including one of the league's best left tackles, Laremy Tunsil, and a PFWA All-Rookie member in right tackle Tytus Howard, the players can no longer take all the blame.
Their run blocking has been underperforming as well, with Houston rushing for just 80 yards in two games. Combine this with the number of pressures and sacks they've allowed, and again, Devlin has questions to answer.
The common theme here is coaching. To put it bluntly, Bill O'Brien may have some tough calls to make in the coming weeks. It may be time for some level of change.