Conner, Steelers too strong for winless Texans

James Conner rushed for 109 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter as the host Pittsburgh Steelers pounded out a 28-21 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Conner plowed in for a 12-yard touchdown with 6:24 remaining to cap a 12-play, 79-yard drive that chewed 7:03 off the clock and provided the Steelers (3-0) a 26-21 lead. Ben Roethlisberger completed a two-point conversion pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster that extended the lead to seven.

Pittsburgh rushed for 169 yards and ran 76 plays compared to just 47 for the Texans (0-3). Houston had little success running the football, totaling only 29 yards and 15 attempts.

The Texans failed to maintain the momentum from what was a promising first half.

Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson was brilliant prior to the intermission, completing 14 of 18 attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He engineered a 5-play, 75-yard touchdown march that required only 50 seconds after the Steelers grabbed a 17-14 lead with 1:14 left in the second quarter, hitting Will Fuller V for a 14-yard scoring pass and a 21-17 lead at the break.

The Steelers responded with a second-half shutout, allowing just 51 yards. The Texans’ defense proved up to the task for most of the second half, holding firm in the third quarter and forcing a 26-yard Chris Boswell field goal after Pittsburgh covered 62 yards in 12 plays and 5:06.

But Watson committed a critical mistake in the fourth quarter, throwing to the middle of the field while under duress from Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt. Cornerback Mike Hilton picked off the pass at the Pittsburgh 13-yard line, giving the Steelers at least one takeaway in nine consecutive games. Conner converted the turnover into the game-winning score.

Roethlisberger finished 23 of 36 for 237 yards and two touchdowns in his 221st game for the Steelers, passing Hall of Famer Mike Webster for most in franchise history. He threw scoring strikes to tight end Eric Ebron and Smith-Schuster in the first half as Pittsburgh rallied from a 14-3 deficit.

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