Cheat Sheet: Steelers at Texans


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The Steelers take to the road as they face the Texans at NRG Stadium.
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The Texans joined the NFL in the 2002 season and these franchises have only met seven times. The Steelers are 5-2 and have won the past three matchups - most recently in 2020. Houston won the initial matchup during that 2002 season. Pittsburgh won the next two. The last time the Texans defeated Pittsburgh was in 2011. The Steelers and Houston have yet to meet in the postseason.


  • Last week in Jacksonville, the Texans got head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback CJ Stroud their first win. 
  • Across the league, first-year head coaches brought a 1-9 record into Week 3. But last week, they went 3-2, with all three victories over playoff teams from last season. First-time coaches Ryans, Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon are 4-5 combined while second-time head coaches Sean Payton and Frank Reich are a combined 0-6. 
  • Last week, Houston won the EPA battle on all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. In the 341 games played in Texans history, Houston has only pulled that off 19 times. 
  • In terms of EPA per play, CJ Stroud's .47 and Kenny Pickett's .35 were sixth and seventh best respectively among all quarterbacks in Week 3, just behind Brock Purdy and just ahead of Josh Allen.
  • Only the Dolphins (510), Chargers (458), Vikings (449), and Chiefs (418) have more yards after the catch this season than Houston (404) and Pittsburgh (380). For the Steelers, 57.2% of their passing yards have come after the catch, the third-highest percentage in the league behind Dallas and Cincinnati. 
  • On a per game basis, Houston is producing 47.7 yards more through the air than it allows. But the Texans are being outrushed by 47.3 yards per game. 
  • Only three defenses have a higher average depth of target against than Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Houston's defense has the second-lowest average depth of target in the league. 
  • Through three games, the Steelers have been outscored by 14 points. Houston has been outscored by seven. 
  • Houston runs the seventh-most plays per game (69). The Steelers run 58 plays per game, which is 27th. However, Pittsburgh's opponents are running 71 plays per game and the Texans' opponents are running 61. 
  • In terms of run/pass ratio, the Steelers are passing the ball at the NFL's fifth-highest rate and Houston is seventh. 
  • Of Pittsburgh's rushing yardage, 79 percent has come after first contact. For Houston's offense, that number is at 76 percent. That is the highest and third-highest percentage in the league. 
  • Houston is recording a sack on just 3.6% of opposing dropbacks, only three defenses are worse. Pittsburgh is recording a sack on 9.8% of opposing dropbacks, only the Bills and Cowboys are better. 
  • Houston is 0-12 in its last dozen games against non-AFC South opponents and it hasn't won back-to-back games since Week 15-16 of the 2021 season. Pittsburgh has won five-straight road games.


  • Pittsburgh's offense averages 4.8 yards per play. The Texans defense is allowing 5.6 yards per play - only the Broncos, Chargers, and Bears are worse. 
  • The Steelers have been in 11 Personnel 72.4% of its offensive snaps, 12 Personnel 23%, 13 Personnel 3.4%, and 02 Personnel for 1.1%, which is just two plays. 
  • Houston has faced 11 Personnel 62.9% of its snaps, 12 Personnel for 20.1%, 20 Personnel for 7.7%, 21 Personnel for 5.7%, 13 Personnel for 2.1%, and 22 Personnel for just two snaps. 
  • The Texans have used their dime package with six defensive backs on the field under 1% of their defensive snaps. 
  • George Pickens has put up 75-plus receiving yards in the past two games. That is the best two-game stretch of his young career. He has accounted for 33% and 23% of the targets with Diontae Johnson out of the lineup and his target share has increased each week. Pickens was on the field for 100% of Pittsburgh's pass plays in Week 3. Pickens' 16 yards per reception average is third-best since entering the league - only behind Jaylen Waddle and AJ Brown.
  • With Johnson out of the lineup over the past two weeks, Calvin Austin has run a route on 88% of Pittsburgh's dropbacks compared to 68% from Allen Robinson. His 23% targets per route run last week was the highest of his career. Austin has been targeted 10 times, but only has three receptions over the most recent two games. 
  • Pat Freiermuth has yet to top four targets in any game this year after averaging 6.1 targets per game in 2022. However, the Texans have allowed an 85% catch rate (30th) and 8.1 yards per target (26th) to opposing tight ends.
  • Pickett's 2.7 seconds average time to throw is the ninth-highest in the NFL. However, Houston's opponents are getting the ball out on average of 2.32 seconds. Only the Vikings defense is facing a shorter time to throw. 
  • Only three defenses are allowing a higher completion rate than Houston. However, only five defenses allow fewer yards per reception. 
  • The Texans didn't have a sack last week on 40 Trevor Lawrence drop backs. They have just four sacks and no one on Houston's defense has more than one. Only the Bears, Giants and Falcons have fewer sacks than Houston. 
  • Najee Harris has a gain of 10 or more yards on four of his 38 scrimmage plays this season (10.5%), which is above his career average. On runs of 15+ yards or "Explosive Runs", Harris an explosive run rate of 11.4, which is best in the league. Last season, Harris had an explosive run rate of 2.6%. This season, Harris has 79 of his rushing yards from explosive runs while in 2022, he generated a total of 135 explosive run yards. 
  • Despite playing his lowest percentage of snaps (50%), Harris got his most touches (19) of the season last week. 
  • Jaylen Warren's 32% target share per route run is the highest among all NFL running backs that have played 50 or more snaps. No one else is over 30%. Warren's snap share has climbed each week. 
  • The Texans have allowed seven rushing touchdowns. That is tied with Denver for most in the league.
  • Houston limited Jacksonville to just 5 for 13 on third downs. The Jaguars also were unsuccessful on their lone fourth down try. 
  • The Texans didn't give up a play of more than 28 yards in Week 3. 
  • Last week, the Texans four defensive ends, Will Anderson, Jonathan Greenard, Dylan Horton and Jerry Hughes, played between 41-60% of Houston's defensive snaps. Similarly, Houston has four defensive tackles that played between 49-53% of the snaps in that game: Sheldon Rankins, Maliek Collins, Khalil Davis and Kurt Hinish. Henry To'o To'o (95%) is the Texans only front seven player that logged more than 63% of the total defensive snaps against Jacksonville. For the season, Houston doesn't have a front seven defender that has been on the field more then To'o To'o, but he has only logged 137 of a possible 194 defensive snaps. Anderson and Greenard lead the defensive linemen this season with 133 snaps apiece.


  • Houston's offense averages 4.9 yards per play. The Steelers defense gives up 5.4 yards per snap. 
  • The Texans have been in 11 Personnel 65.3% of their offensive snaps, 21 Personnel 14.1%, 12 Personnel 13.6%, and 22 Personnel for 5.2%. 
  • Pittsburgh's has faced 11 Personnel 51.8% of itssnaps, 21 for 17.9%, 12 Personnel for 11.2%, 01 Personnel for 5.8%, 13 Personnel for 3.6%, 12 Personnel with an extra offensive lineman 2.7%, 22 Personnel for 2.2%, 10 Personnel for 2.2%, and 11 Personnel with an extra offensive lineman for 2.2%. 
  • The Steelers have been in their nickel package with five defensive backs on the field for 40.2% of their snaps. Only two defenses use it a lesser percentage. 
  • Only one offense in the league is using shifts and motions at a lesser rate than Houston. 
  • The Texans have scored 50 offensive points over the past two games. That is the most for this franchise over successive games since Week 15 and 16 of 2021. 
  • Houston's offense averaged 6.5 yards per play last week, but only possessed the football for 27:57. 
  • CJ Stroud has 903 passing yards over his first three starts. He is only the third player in NFL history to accomplish that along with Cam Newton and Justin Herbert. He's currently fifth among all quarterbacks in passing yards per game and second in drop backs, having dropped back to pass 140 already this season. Stroud has 121-straight passes without an interception. He is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with at least 110 attempts and zero interceptions. Stroud's 7.49 yards per attempt is eighth-best in the league. 
  • Stroud is completing 76.2% of his passes on third downs, which is second best. League average is 62.2%. The Steelers allow just a 57.6% completion rate on third downs. 
  • Houston's collective yards per reception is higher than all but five teams. 
  • Nico Collins was targeted 20 times in the first two weeks, catching 13 passes for 226 yards. Last week, Collins was targeted just three times, catching two of them for 34 yards. Collins' target share has decreased each week. 
  • Robert Woods caught six passes in each of the first two games of the season, but just three for 34 yards against Jacksonville. 
  • Rookie Tank Dell run a route on just 48% of Houston's drop backs in Week 1, but percentage spiked to 85% in Week 2. He was targeted 10 times in that game. But it was Week 3 when Dell really blew up, catching five passes for 145 yards including a 68-yard touchdown. Dell led the Texans in targets for the second straight week. Also, Dell's 30.4% 20-plus yard receiving per play rate ranks second among all qualified wide receivers. 
  • Among all NFL receivers, Dell ranks 15th (2.61) in yards per route run and Collins comes in at 20th (2.52). The Texans are the only team in the NFL with two receivers with 250-plus yards. 
  • Out of 56 possible snaps last week, Woods played 43, Collins 37, Dell 34 and John Metchie was on the field for 14 plays. With a large lead against the Jaguars, Dell's snaps were given to Metchie late in the game. 
  • Over the past two weeks, Woods leads the team with 74 routes run and his 84.8% route participation leads the team. Dell has 69 and Collins has 62 over the past two weeks. In terms of total EPA, Collins was best in Week 2 among all NFL wide receivers and Dell was second-best in Week 3 behind only Keenan Allen. 
  • Last week, Davante Adams was targeted 20 times against the Steelers. He caught 13 of those passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Adams had a whopping 45.4% target share on Sunday night. 
  • Only three tight ends have run more routes than Dalton Schultz through the first three weeks of the season. But Schultz had just one catch in Week 3 and has been targeted only 13 times all year. He has had under a 10% target rate now for two straight games. 
  • Just seven defenses are giving up a lower completion percentage than the Steelers. 
  • Pittsburgh's defense has allowed a league-high 27 receptions of 10 or more air yards downfield. The Steelers have faced the most air yards in the league by receivers aligned outside the numbers. But the Texans deep throw (pass attempts of 20+ yards) percentage of 6.6% is the second-lowest in the NFL behind only Washington. 
  • Stroud was sacked 11 times through two games, but the Jaguars didn't get to him once last week. Still, only the Commanders and Titans have lost more yardage this season from sacks than Houston. The Steelers have generated 73 negative yards from sacks, fifth-most. 
  • Just five defenses are blitzing at a lower percentage than Pittsburgh this season, yet the Steelers' 13 sacks lead the league. 
  • TJ Watt leads in the NFL in quarterback takedowns with 12. He has six sacks and six quarterback hits. No one else in the league has more than nine. 
  • Houston is rushing for just 2.8 yards per attempt. Only eight of the Texans 57 first downs this year have come via the run. 
  • Through the first two games of the year, Dameon Pierce had just 82 yards from scrimmage on 30 touches. Week 3 wasn't much different. Pierce ran the ball 14 times for just 31 yards, but he did catch three passes for 28 yards. Devin Singletary only ran the ball twice over the first three quarters of play and six of his carries came in the final seven minutes of the game when Houston had a two-score lead. Still, Houston averaged just 3.3 yards per rush attempt against the Jaguars. Pierce averages just .15 yards before first contact. 
  • Pierce ran 12 routes last week compared to 13 for Singletary. As for snap counts, they were split 30-22 in Pierce's favor. 
  • Pittsburgh surrendered 386 rushing yards in its first two games, but just 69 in Las Vegas with a long run of just 10 yards. 
  • Houston fullback Andrew Beck, who also had a kickoff return for a touchdown, was on the field for exactly half of the offensive plays last week. 
  • Houston is averaging a league-low 4.0 yards per play on first downs. The Texans are averaging 5.5 yards per play on all other downs - ninth-best in the league. 
  • The Texans were without four offensive line starters in Week 2 as well as last week. Three of those four missing starters are on injured reserve. 
  • In terms of not allowing the opponent to convert a series of downs into a new series of downs, the Steelers are ninth-best in the NFL. 
  • Houston is last in the NFL in red zone touchdown rate (27.3%) and goal-to-go touchdown rate (25%).


  • Not only did Houston block a field goal attempt last week, but it also had a kickoff return for a touchdown.


October 10th, 2014: Steelers 30, Texans 20, Heinz Field

As noted, these franchises have only squared off seven times. The most notable occurrence from this particular game was that the Steelers scored 21 second quarter points in a wild 120 seconds of playing time to take a 24-13 lead into halftime. This was Pittsburgh's 16th-straight victory at home on Monday Night Football. But the first 27 minutes of this game belonged to Houston on the backs of JJ Watt and Arian Foster as the Texans got out to a 13-0 early lead. But during the final three minutes of the first half, Martavis Bryant caught his first career touchdown. Then after a Foster fumble deep in his own end, Antonio Brown threw a touchdown to Lance Moore. After a Brett Keisel interception, Ben Roethlisberger hit LeVeon Bell for a touchdown strike.


Texans WR Nico Collins vs. Steelers Cornerbacks

Collins has come on like gangbusters in 2023. Along with Collins, who has great size and physicality, Houston now has a quality wide receiver trio with Dell and Woods, who generally operates out of the slot. Houston has thrown the ball a lot with Collins being the most dangerous threat, especially when left one-on-one.

Steelers OT Chukwuma Okorafor vs. Texans DE Will Anderson

The third-overall selection in the most recent NFL Draft might already by Houston's best defensive player. He isn't the biggest defensive end, but Anderson plays with power in both the run and pass game. His change of direction is excellent, and he gets off the ball very quickly. Anderson has been successful on stunt and loops so Pittsburgh's offensive line must communicate well when passing him off. Anderson also blocked a field goal last week.