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Join Date: Apr 2004
Texans out to shed loser label
Labeled as one of the NFL's most disappointing teams for years, the Houston Texans think they're ready to make a move and join the AFC's elite.
In their way stands the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of a select few teams others in the AFC are measured against.
Houston hosts Pittsburgh today at Reliant Stadium. Both teams carry a 2-1 record into the game.
The Texans and Steelers may share the same record, but the feeling amongst the respective fan bases is far different.
The Steelers may be the defending AFC champions but have been uneven through the first three weeks, prompting head coach Mike Tomlin to call them "a team in development."
Houston, meanwhile, won its first two games in convincing fashion before blowing a double-digit lead last week at New Orleans, losing 40-33.
The Texans know that a victory over the Steelers would be a significant step in the right direction.
"This organization is trying to find its first playoff appearance. And it has a football team that has three or four players that have ever been in a playoff game. So we are trying to get that," said Houston coach Gary Kubiak. "They don't hand that out. They make you earn it. We are working really hard."
The Steelers are working on a solution to a struggling offense expected to be among the league's best.
Pittsburgh is averaging just 85.7 rushing yards per game and have turned the ball over 10 times.
"We're not panicked," said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "We're a veteran enough group that we don't do that. We just talk about what we need to do and get it done."
One big issue has been the offensive line.
The Steelers will have their fourth different starting offensive line in as many games against the Texans. Left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Doug Legursky won't play after suffering injuries in last week's 23-20 win at Indianapolis.
Only center Maurkice Pouncey has started every game.
"You're always concerned when you lose guys up front," said Roethlisberger. "You like to get some cohesiveness up there. It seems like our team, we always lose linemen. It doesn't seem like anyone else loses linemen like we do. I'm not sure why. I've got confidence in those guys that they'll be able to bounce back and whoever fills will do a great job."
Trai Essex will start at left tackle at Houston, while Ramon Foster will be at right guard.
They'll face a Texans defense that has made the transition to a 3-4 look under former Dallas head coach Wade Phillips, who was hired by Kubiak soon after being fired by the Cowboys.
"This league is about pressure," said Kubiak. "Everybody is trying to find a way each week to make the quarterback get rid of the ball and force him to make quick decisions. It always starts with that. If you look at all these passing yards around the league, if you don't get to the quarterback, you probably are going to be in for a long day."
That has been the case for Roethlisberger in each of the Steelers' two road games. He was pressured into three interceptions and two fumbles in a 35-7 loss at Baltimore and had another interception and two more lost fumbles last week against Indianapolis.
By contrast, the Steelers have forced just one turnover.
"We are a blessed group to be sitting here 2-1 after being minus-nine after three games," Tomlin admitted. "We have got to get better in that area, and preserve and protect the football, and getting it."
Odds and end zones
Houston is expected to get 2010 NFL rushing champion Arian Foster back for the game. Foster has seen limited action because of a nagging hamstring injury but is probable to play. ... In addition to Legursky and Scott, defensive end Brett Keisel (knee) will not play for the Steelers. Ziggy Hood will make his second start in place of Keisel. Copyright Observer Publishing Co.
Last edited by CloakNNNdagger; 10-02-2011 at 10:27 AM.