Sun Sep 27 4:17pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) stretches for the end zone to score as Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) tries to bring him down in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) tries to get past Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush (55) on a scramble during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) gets away from Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Houston Texans running back David Johnson (31) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Houston Texans running back David Johnson (31) celebrates with Pharaoh Brown (85) after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Houston Texans running back David Johnson (31) gets past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) to score a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron (85) celebrates on the sideline with teammate cornerback Joe Haden (23) after making a touchdown catch against the Houston Texans in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH (AP) James Conner ran for 109 yards and the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter as the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed perfect by rallying past the Houston Texans 28-21 on Sunday.
The Steelers improved to 3-0 for the first time in a decade by putting the clamps on the Texans in the second half. Houston managed just 51 yards and two first downs after halftime as an early 11-point lead vanished. The Texans dropped to 0-3.
Houston started with the same mark in 2018 and rallied to win the AFC South. The going might be tougher this season if the defense can't find a way to keep opposing running games in check. The NFL's 31st-ranked run defense wore down in the second half as the Steelers methodically pulled away.
The game turned early in the fourth quarter when Houston quarterback DeShaun Watson threw into double coverage deep in Pittsburgh territory with the Texans leading 21-20. Steelers nickelback Mike Hilton picked it off. Pittsburgh put together a 12-play 79-yard drive, with Conner covering the last 12 on a sprint to the end zone to give the Steelers the lead with 6:24 to go.
Pittsburgh's defense then forced its third three-and-out of the second half and Conner did most of the rest as the Steelers chewed up the last 4:47 to ice it.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns in his franchise-record 221st appearance. Rookie running back Anthony McFarland Jr. added 42 yards rushing in his NFL debut. Eric Ebron and JuJu Smith-Schuster each caught a touchdown pass as the Steelers stayed unbeaten through three weeks for the first time since 2010.
Pittsburgh reached the Super Bowl that season. The Steelers believe they have the tools to do it again in 2020. The defense overcame a shaky first half to overwhelm the Texans over the final two quarters. Watson finished 19 of 27 for 264 yards and two scores, but went just 5 of 9 for 62 yards in the second half. Houston managed just 29 yards rushing, turning them one dimensional and Pittsburgh pounced.
The Steelers collected five sacks, extending their streak of games with at least one sack to 60, the fourth-longest stretch in NFL history.
The Watt family reunion - just the second game in the NFL in 93 years to feature three brothers - began with a group photo well before kickoff and included Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. Watt and big brother, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, meeting at midfield for the opening coin toss.
Middle brother Derek, a fullback for the Steelers, watched from the sidelines and spent most of the afternoon there. Derek played occasionally in the first half before leaving with a hamstring injury.
T.J. Watt earned family bragging rights, picking up a key sack on Watson to push back the Texans at the start of their final possession.
Texans: S A.J. Moore left with a hamstring injury in the first half and did not return.
Steelers: WR Dionate Johnson exited in the second quarter due to a concussion sustained while getting tackled at the end of a 9-yard gain on a reverse.
Texans: Host Minnesota next Sunday looking to avoid their first 0-4 start since 2008.
Steelers: Travel to Tennessee next week to take on the Titans. Pittsburgh won the last meeting between the two teams 40-17 on Nov. 16, 2017.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
After coming down with a calf strain at practice on Friday, Aaron Jones is now expected to miss the Week 7 game against the Texans. This is a tough one for fantasy football managers, as Jones has been a reliable RB1 all season long and may be difficult to replace in fantasy lineups on short notice. Fourth-year running back Jamaal Williams is now expected to act as the lead RB, but rookie AJ Dillon will be in the mix as well and should see more touches than usual. Dexter Williams was added to the Packers active roster on Saturday as well for additional running back depth. Consider Williams a plug-and-play RB2/FLEX option, while Dillon looks more like an RB3/RB4 flier for deeper leagues. Both are also intriguing lower-cost options for DFS lineups, depending on the contest format.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones (calf) isn't expected to play Sunday, Oct. 25, and the team is planning on him not playing, according to sources Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: It's a big blow for fantasy managers. Packers RBs Jamaal Williams, AJ Dillon and Dexter Williams should all play roles with Dillon being the most appealing for fantasy purposes.
Dallas Cowboys DB Rashard Robinson (undisclosed) was placed on the practice squad injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Mike Daniels was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24. DB Winston Rose was also promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Atlanta Falcons DE Austin Edwards and LB Edmond Robinson were added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 24, as COVID-19 replacements.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (knee) has an 'outside chance' of returning in Week 8, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman should be stashed now wherever available with RB Raheem Mostert going on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday.
Updating a previous story, Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is officially listed as questionable for the game Monday, Oct. 26, against the Chicago Bears after getting in a limited practice Saturday, Oct. 24.
Los Angeles Rams DL Michael Brockers (non-injury) and CB Troy Hill (non-injury) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but don't carry injury designations for Week 7. DL Aaron Donald (non-injury) and OL Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) practiced in full and don't carry injury designations.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is hopeful to play Monday, Oct. 26, according to head coach Sean McVay Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee had a season-high 56 yards with three catches on four targets in Week 6. He's a low-tier TE1 when on the field.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) was a limited participant at practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but doesn't carry an injury designation into the Week 7 game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Oct. 26.
Fantasy Spin: Woods will be a somewhat risky WR3 play in what's projected as a low-scoring game against the Bears.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Chris Thompson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Updating previous stories, San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) was officially placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24. S Johnathan Cyprien and S Jared Mayden were activated from the team's practice squad. WR Jauan Jennings (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
Tennessee Titans DB Dane Cruikshank was activated from the Reserve/Injured list to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24. OL David Quessenberry and LB Daren Bates were elevated from the practice squad to the active roster.
Denver Broncos CB A.J. Bouye, DE Dre'Mont Jones and DE DeMarcus Walker were activated from the Reserve/Injured list to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24. CB De'Vante Bausby was released in a corresponding move. Free-agent DL Sylvester Williams (Broncos) was re-signed to the practice squad. RB Jeremy Cox and LB Nigel Bradham will be elevated from the practice squad to the game-day roster for Sunday, Oct. 25.
Las Vegas Raiders DE David Irving and CB Dylan Mabin were activated from the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 24.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Trey Edmunds and LB Jayrone Elliott were elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24.