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Steelers defeat Texans, 28-21

Ben Roethlisberger's record-setting afternoon turned into a first-half shootout with Houston.

Roethlisberger appeared in his 221st regular-season game, which broke a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mike Webster and elevated Roethlisberger into sole possession of first place on the Steelers' all-time list.

The Steelers made it an occasion to celebrate with a 28-21 victory over the Texans.

The Steelers improved to 3-0.

The Texans are 0-3.

"It's not like I passed him," Roethlisberger said, referencing Webster and the record. "I feel like I joined him today."

What had been a back-and-forth exhibit of offense in the first two quarters turned into a slugfest in the second half.

Trailing 21-20 in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger directed a 12-play, 79-yard drive in 7:03 that ended on a 12-yard burst for a touchdown by running back James Conner and a pass for a two-point conversion from Roethlisberger to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and a 28-21 Steelers' lead with 6:24 left in regulation.

The Texans failed to manage a first down on their next possession and punted, and the Steelers exhausted the final 4:47 left on the clock.

Houston had put up 21 points and gained 209 total net yards in the first half.

The Steelers' defense pitched a second-half shutout while limiting the Texans to 51 total net yards and two first downs, and coming up with the game's only turnover, an interception by nickel cornerback Mike Hilton that set the table for what became the game-winning drive.

"They had a really good plan," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of the Texans. "It took us a while to get adjusted to it. It took us a while to find our rhythm."

The Steelers had closed to within 21-20 on a 26-yard field goal from kicker Chris Boswell with 9:54 left in the third quarter. Their 12-play, 62-yard drive in 5:06 required a pair of fourth-down conversions, one a 2-yard effort by Conner to the Houston 48-yard line and one on a 29-yard pass interference penalty on a deep ball to wide receiver Chase Claypool that set the Steelers up at the Texans' 10.

The drive that closed out the game included a 7-yard pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver James Washington on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 35 with 3:11 left in the fourth.

The Steelers responded to an early 14-3 deficit with consecutive touchdown drives for a 17-14 advantage.

Roethlisberger found tight end Eric Ebron with a back shoulder-fade on third-and-goal from the Houston 10 with 5:05 left in the second quarter. Boswell's extra point brought the Steelers to within 14-10.

The Steelers got the ball back 2:38 before the break and turned the possession into a seven-play, 63-yard march for a touchdown in 1:24. Smith-Schuster ran through the Houston secondary uncovered and walked into the end zone on a drive-capping, 26-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Boswell's PAT made in 17-14 Steelers with 1:14 remaining in the second.

It took the Texans just 50 seconds to re-take the lead.

A five-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 14-yard fade from quarterback Deshaun Watson to wide receiver Will Fuller over cornerback Steven Nelson in the back of the end zone. Ka'imi Fairbairn's extra point gave Houston a 21-17 lead with 24 seconds left before halftime.

"The defense didn't blink," Tomlin said. "We gave up some possessions early. They didn't allow it to spoil the day.

"We made minor technical adjustments to rush and coverage, I think that was the difference."

Houston had turned a 3-0 deficit into a 14-3 lead on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Watson to wide receiver Randall Cobb, and a 2-yard run around right end by running back David Johnson. The second of Fairbarin's first two extra points put the Texans ahead, 14-3, with 11:32 left in the second.

The Steelers had opened the scoring on a 33-yard Boswell field goal with 8:55 left in the opening quarter. The drive stalled when running back Jaylen Samuels managed only 1 yard on third-and-2 from the Texans' 16.

The Steelers lost wide receiver Diontae Johnson (concussion) and fullback Derek Watt (hamstring) to injury.

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 3 game against the Houston Texans at Heinz Field