Steelers PATs: Martavis and the forward pass 37

Houston Texans v Pittsburgh Steelers

Martavis Bryant catches his 36-yard touchdown ahead of the Texans’ Andre Hal on Monday. — GETTY IMAGES


The rewind of the Steelers’ 30-23 victory over the Texans on Monday night will focus almost entirely, I’m sure, on those ridiculous three minutes in which the home team piled up 24 points. And that’s as it should be.

Me, I’ll take one fairly nondescript play that occurred later, in the third quarter, when Ben Roethlisberger hit Darrius Heyward-Bey across the middle for a 17-yard gain and an escape from the shadow of their goal posts.

Not because it amounted to much. It didn’t. The Steelers would punt from their 39.

And not because it was spectacular. Heyward-Bey made a very nice effort, coming back to the ball through two defenders to haul it in, but it’s a play you see a lot.

Just not in Pittsburgh.

The pass across the middle to a wide receiver, I mean.


Tuesday 12 Qs: Beard, Bortuzzo, Chad, Franky 78


photoWelcome to Tuesday 12 Qs, our chat that takes place each week at 1 p.m., obviously in the immediate aftermath of the Mike Tomlin press conference, and offers you a chance to dictate the discussion.

The format is simple: Use the comments section below to submit an entry. No more than one per person, please. Submit it early if you prefer, and I’ll pick from that batch to get rolling, then monitor new entries once we go live.

All topics welcome, as always.

Stephen Dotts: Was the Steelers’ victory over the Texans a significant step in the right direction, or a product of three lucky minutes?

DK: I’m not, in any walk of life, a fan of analysis through omission. What happens actually happens. If Le’Veon Bell rans for 350 yards in one game, no more than 20 in any of the rest, he still ran for those 350. There are no rejected outliers in sports. Everything counts.


Column: Immaculate Projection? Sure, why not? 115

Houston Texans v Pittsburgh Steelers

Brett Keisel races through Houston territory after his first-half tip/interception Monday night at Heinz Field. — GETTY IMAGES


Helps every once in a while to hear it from the opposite perspective, you know?

So here was the head coach in the interview room at Heinz Field, facing off with reporters in the tensest of showdowns, fielding question after question about this shortcoming or that. And finally, he blew his top. Or came close, anyway.

Mike Tomlin?

Ha! No chance.

Guess again, and it shouldn’t be too tough if you’re a Penn State fan.

“It was 30-23, you know!” Bill O’Brien fairly shouted in citing the final of the Steelers’ victory Monday night over his Texans. This was one of several emotional outbursts in his press conference, nothing new for those who followed his brief tenure in State College. “It wasn’t 50-0! We’re one onside kick away, and these questions are like we lost 50-0! We lost by a touchdown!

Catching himself momentarily, he continued: “The thing is, you can’t do that. You can’t turn the ball over. You can’t field a kick, bobble the kick. You can’t give up shot plays. You can’t have 12 men on the field on third down to give them a first down. We just can’t do those things. We’ve got to coach it better, and we’ve got to play better.”

Yeah, soak that in, Nation. Someone else is doing all the suffering.

What’s more, they’re doing it at the hands of a group of players that … hm, not sure how to put this … well, they sure sounded like they really enjoyed it.

“We frustrated them. We did,” Cam Heyward said. “And man, that felt good.”

About time, huh?


On location: Steelers 30, Texans 23 294


Steelers and Texans fans take turns snapping each other in front of world’s greatest skyline. — DEJAN KOVACEVIC


Getting ready for kickoff …

Game: Steelers (3-3) vs. Houston Texans (3-3), 8:32 p.m., Heinz Field

TV, radio: ESPN (national), 102.5 WDVE

Online: GameCenter / Multimedia / Official game notes

If you missed it, today’s column examined Dick LeBeau’s defense.

UPDATE 7:05 p.m.: The Steelers’ inactives are linebacker Ryan Shazier, wide receiver Justin Brown, nose tackle Steve McLendon, safety Shamarko Thomas, cornerback Ike Taylor, guard Chris Hubbard and quarterback Landry Jones. Sean Spence will start for Shazier at inside linebacker.

Houston’s inactives are linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, former Pitt quarterback Tom Savage, wide receiver DeVier Posey, safety Josh Aubrey, offensive tackle Jeff Adams and cornerbacks Jumal Rolle and Darryl Morris. Whitney Mercilus will start for Clowney at jack linebacker.

There will be a column here after tonight’s game. I’ll also be joining Charlie Batch as part of the Steelers’ 102.5 WDVE postgame show.

Exactly 5,000 thank-yous 27



As of a few minutes ago, we received our 5,000th subscription.

That represents the halfway mark our stated full-year goal of 10,000, and it comes a week shy of our having been online for three months. So, obviously and without hyperbole, this exceeds our most optimistic projections.

Thank you. So much.

We’ll work, on the reporting and the business end, to never let you down.

Podcast: ‘Showdown’ tackles Tomlin, Liriano 3


If you missed KDKA-TV’s ‘#1 Cochran Sports Showdown‘ Sunday night, we talked about Mike Tomlin’s challenge, the messy AFC North, Pitt’s chance at the ACC championship, Francisco Liriano’s future and more.

The host was Bob Pompeani, and the rest of the panel with me were Andrew Fillipponi and Jeff Hathhorn of 93.7 The Fan.

Below is the show’s opening segment. To see the rest, click the KDKA link above.

Column: LeBeau, Steelers’ D need to move on 74

Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp

Daniel McCullers, the Steelers’ 6-7, 352-pound rookie nose tackle, could make his NFL debut Monday. — GETTY IMAGES


Minutes after the Steelers sprint out of the tunnel Monday night at Heinz Field to take on the Texans — 8:32 p.m. kickoff — there will exist at least a chance to witness something truly special as it relates to the Dick LeBeau defense: The best players might actually take the field.

Be sure to savor it. Your grandchildren will want the tale told right.

Brice McCain will start over Cortez Allen at left corner. McCain hinted as much in our interview last week, and LeBeau strongly suggested it Thursday, as well. And all that took was for McCain to be the team’s best corner in practice by a wide margin — Mike Tomlin’s assessment, not mine — and for McCain to pull off a game-sealing pick-6 in Jacksonville and for Allen to be ranked 103rd out of the NFL’s 103 qualified corners by Pro Football Focus.