Focused on what matters most

What the Steelers have done better than anything over the season's first two weeks is what's most important in any week, achieve victory despite the presence of imperfections.

They overcame a slow start that included a muffed punt and the allowing of a big-play touchdown for openers at the New York Football Giants. And they worked around a lost fumble, an interception and 10 penalties committed in last Sunday's home-opening victory over Denver.

The flip side of that coin is the Houston Texans.

Like the Steelers (2-0), the Texans (0-2) haven't played as well as they think they can play through the season's first two games.

But while Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has had the luxury of seeking corrections following winning efforts, the Texans' Bill O'Brien is searching for answers with a heightened sense of urgency following season-opening losses at Kansas City and to Baltimore.

"We haven't done a good enough job," O'Brien acknowledged. "We gotta really look to improve. We have a lot of good guys on this team, tough guys with a lot of pride.

"They're not happy with where we're at."

Based on winning percentages from the previous season, the Texans' first two games were tougher than any two an NFL team has faced to open a campaign since the Miami Dolphins in 1968.

But that doesn't make 0-2 any easier to take.

"We've played two good teams but we have to play better and we have to improve quickly," O'Brien emphasized.

There's reason to suspect Houston is capable of making the necessary changes.

The Texans, the AFC South Division champions in 2019, are one of three NFL teams to have captured division titles in four of the past six seasons (the Chiefs and the New England Patriots are the other two). And 42 of the 53 players on this year's season-opening roster spent last season with Houston or on the Texans' practice squad, so there's continuity at a time when continuity is perceived as a significant advantage given the restrictions of the pandemic.

Houston achieved a double-digit victory total for the second consecutive season last season (10-6), and defeated Buffalo, 22-19, in overtime, in an AFC Wild Card Game.

The Texans also had a 24-0 lead over the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round but ultimately lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions, 51-31.

This season began with a 19-yard touchdown burst by running back David Johnson for a 7-0 advantage on the Texans' second possession on Sept. 10 at Kansas City.

But the Texans haven't enjoyed a lead since in what became a 34-20 loss at KC and a 33-16 setback absorbed last Sunday against Baltimore.

Johnson was acquired in an off-season trade that sent DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona, and a Texans' wide receiver hasn't caught a touchdown pass since.

A bigger issue for Houston through the first two games has been 166 rushing yards allowed at Kansas City and 230 more against Baltimore (it was 233 before the Ravens executed three kneel-downs to end the game).

Tomlin was displeased enough with his team's 10 penalties against Denver that he brought in officials to oversee practices this week.

Another storyline has been quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's public commitment to better fundamentals, particularly pertaining to his footwork.

Roethlisberger has also dealt with questions about whether the Steelers are running the ball enough, whether tight end Eric Ebron has been sufficiently targeted and how the Steelers can get second-round wide receiver Chase Claypool even more involved.

They'll know if they found the right answers by late Sunday afternoon based on the Heinz Field scoreboard and the NFL standings.

"You look at the win-loss column," Roethlisberger maintained. "At the end of the day it doesn't matter who's getting the ball. It doesn't matter how many times we're running or throwing it. It doesn't matter who's getting their stats.

"As long as we're wining football games, that's the most important thing."