Making adjustments: You always hear about making halftime adjustments, but the adjustments the Steelers defense made on Sunday were truly game changers.
In the first half, the defense allowed the Texans to put up 209 yards and 11 first downs, taking a 21-17 lead into the half. In the second half, the defense shut them down, allowing just 51 yards, two first downs and keeping them off the scoreboard for the 28-21 win.
"They had a really good plan. It took us a while to get adjusted to it," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "They made plays early on in all three phases. We were trying to find our rhythm. I thought the guys did a nice job, players and coaches, communicating and making necessary adjustments at the half and finding our rhythm in the second half. Getting necessary stops and possessing the ball. It was a lot to be proud of in terms of the effort.
"The defense didn't blink. We gave up some possessions early. Sometimes that can put a bad taste in your mouth. We didn't allow it to spoil the day. They just played one snap at a time. We were able to get some significant stops in the second half. I thought the turnover by Mike Hilton was enormous."
Hilton came up with the interception in the fourth quarter with the Steelers trailing, 21-20, and the offense turned it into a game-winning drive.
"We made some adjustments," said Tomlin. "More than anything I like the group's ability to adjust and communicate in the midst of it. There wasn't a lot of blink in the group. They absorbed the necessary adjustments. Sometimes that is necessary. We had to do some adjusting, kudos to the coaches and those guys for communicating and adjusting and not blinking in the midst of some of those things that transpire when those things happen."
Group effort: James Conner had his second straight 100-yard game, handling the role that Tomlin said he would have as the 'bell cow' for the ground game.
But, while he is carrying the load, the offense is definitely using a mixture in the backfield, including rookie Anthony McFarland who had six carries for 42 yards in his Steelers debut.
"Good to get Anthony McFarland involved," said Tomlin. "I thought our utilization of all of the backs was a good element of play for us. He was ready last week. That is why we had the hat on him. Sometimes game circumstances don't allow certain roles to develop. We like the overall trajectory of his game. He has been working hard, practicing hard and having professional detail in his work. We had trust in his abilities. It was good to get him in the mix. He brings a different skill set than the others and they complement each other well.
"(James) is our feature runner. It doesn't mean we won't play others. It does mean as we distribute carries and particularly as we find our rhythm in the game that will include him unless somebody else has an unusual hot hand. And we don't care who gets the credit or who makes the plays, that's just the approach that we take."
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 3 game against the Houston Texans at Heinz Field
Injury Update: From an injury standpoint, Derek Watt a has hamstring. Diontae Johnson has a concussion. The rest are just bumps and bruises associated with play. I'll update you guys on Tuesday.
He said it:
Coach Tomlin on Mike Hilton:
"He's just a tough little football player. He's a football player first and nickel second. He's good in the run game. He's solid in the passing game as well, and that provides a platform for him to be noticed in a variety of spaces."