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Oct 20, 2014 9:19 PM

Texans take early 10-0 lead over Steelers

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) Ryan Fitzpatrick hit rookie running back Alfred Blue for an 11-yard touchdown pass, and the Houston Texans had a 10-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the second quarter on Monday night.

Blue's second career TD capped a 10-play, 94-yard drive that included an important escape on a third down inside the Houston 10. Facing a third-and-7, Fitzpatrick was surrounded by Steelers near the goal line only to escape to his right and hit Damaris Johnson for a 15-yard gain.

It was a needed confidence boost as Houston tries to end a two-game slide. Arian Foster bounced off a missed tackle by Pittsburgh linebacker Sean Spence on his way to a 33-yard sprint that set up Fitzpatrick's short toss to Blue. Foster ran for 59 yards on the drive and finished the first quarter with 73 yards rushing.

Houston star defensive end J.J. Watt continued his remarkable season, recovering a fumble by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to give the Texans the ball in Steelers territory. The recovery was the fourth takeaway by Watt this season. The drive ended with a 39-yard field goal by Randy Bullock less than two minutes into the second.

The Texans played without rookie linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who missed his sixth straight game due to a right knee injury. Houston didn't need Clowney to get consistent pressure on Roethlisberger, disrupting the pocket whenever he dropped back to pass.

The Steelers came in staggering after a three-touchdown loss to the Browns. Roethlisberger stressed his team was hardly ready to panic even after the franchise's worst loss to Cleveland in 25 years. But Pittsburgh took an aggressive step to help out an offense that came in sixth in total yards but just 23rd in the league in points, activating 6-foot-4 rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant for the first time.

Roethlisberger didn't waste time putting Bryant to work, overthrowing him on a deep pattern down the sideline on Pittsburgh's first drive. It was one of the few times Roethlisberger had the luxury of looking downfield. Standing in the middle of a chaotic pocket, Roethlisberger was often forced to throw underneath to running back Le'Veon Bell or wide receiver Antonio Brown.

The Texans are similarly built, relying heavily on Foster and veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson. Houston needed little more than Foster during a dominant first quarter that seemed to encapsulate Pittsburgh's erratic 3-3 start.

Foster ran through arm tackles into the open field as the Steelers did little to dispel the notion that they are soft, an accusation leveled in recent weeks by former coach Bill Cowher and wide receiver Hines Ward.



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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