Fresh off their controversial loss to the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers knew they had to show that they needed to move on and remain focused on their regular season goal: To earn a 1st round bye in the playoffs. And after the Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the San Francisco 49ers, all the Steelers had to do was beat the Houston Texans Christmas Day to earn that bye.
Mission Accomplished. The Steelers traveled to Houston and left with a 34-6 Christmas present that improved their record to 12-3, the best record under head coach Mike Tomlin. The Steelers have also won at least 12 wins for the 4th time under Tomlin (2008, 2010, 2011 & 2017). The Steelers could still get Homefield Advantage in the playoffs provided they beat 0-15 Cleveland next Sunday and the Patriots lose.
The Steelers win vs. the Patriots wasn’t pretty and it didn’t have to be. As a Playoff contender, they knew they needed to win, and they certainly did after holding the Texans to only 6 points and 227 total yards. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was truly the star of the game as he passed for 226 yards (20-29) and 2 TDs with one going to WR Justin Hunter and the other going to rookie JuJu Smith-Shuster, who led the Steelers with 75 yards on 5 receptions. The Steelers other scores went to RB Le’Veon Bell (14 carries for 69 yards) and FB Roosevelt Nix. Pro Bowl K Chris Bowell also kicked 2 FGs for the Steelers.
The Steelers defense also stood out as they had a near shutout and made Texans QB TJ Yates miserable as he was held to only 83 yards passing and an interception to Steelers CB Artie Burns. His lone TD came on a spectacular catch by Pro Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Steelers also sacked Yates 7 times with 3 coming from CB Mike Hilton and 2 from DE Cam Heyward who now leads the team with 12 on the season. Fellow DE Stepheon Tuitt and LB Sean Spence had the other 2 sacks for the Steelers.
After Bell’s TD, the Steelers rested their starters on offense and it remains to be seen if they will do the same against the Browns next Sunday. It’ll depend on how they’re faring against the Browns and how the Patriots are doing against the NY Jets. The Steelers are in a good situation right now and have positioned themselves for a possible trip to Super Bowl 52, but they know better than to look past the winless Browns.
In other Christmas Day NFL Action: Philadelphia beat Oakland 19-10 and clinch Homefield Advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs.
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Pittsburgh 34, Houston 6
Dec. 25, 2017
- Pittsburgh has clinched a first-round bye in the 2017 playoffs.
- Pittsburgh is 12-3 (7-1 on the road) and 9-2 vs. AFC teams in 2017.
- The Steelers earned a 3-1 record against AFC South opponents in 2017.
- The Steelers have finished with a 7-1 regular-season road record in 2017 – tied as the best road mark in a single-season in team history (2010, 2004 and 1978).
- The Steelers have clinched a season with at least 12 wins for the 10th time in team history and for the first time since 2011 (12-4).
- The Steelers have won each of their previous six road games, dating back to Oct. 1, 2017, at Baltimore.
- The Steelers are now 4-2 in regular-season history against the Texans (2-1 on the road).
- Pittsburgh improved to 1-1 in regular-season games against Houston in the month of December (1-0 on the road in the month).
- The Steelers have won four consecutive road games in the month of December, dating to Dec. 11, 2016, at Buffalo.
- The Steelers are 456-285-2 during the regular season since 1970.
- Held Houston to 0 points in the first half – the 19th first half shutout of the Mike Tomlin era (since 2007).
- Pittsburgh recorded seven sacks of Houston – tied as the most by the defense in 2017 (Week One at Cleveland).
- Limited the Texans to -7 net passing yards in the first half – marking the fewest passing yards allowed in the first half since -13 on Oct. 23, 1983 vs. Seattle.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
- Increased his regular-season win total to 115 – tying Joe Gibbs for the second-most wins by a head coach in their first 11 seasons in NFL history (Don Shula: 117).
- Clinched his fourth season with at least 12 wins as the Steelers’ head coach (2008, ’10, ’11, ’17).
- Improved his regular-season record to 115-60 since becoming the Steelers’ head coach in 2007 (51-37 on the road).
- Is now 3-1 as Pittsburgh’s head coach in regular-season games vs. Houston (1-1 on the road).
- Upped his record to 86-45 in regular-season games vs. AFC opponents (39-27 on the road).
- Improved to 32-14 in regular-season games during the month of December (12-7 on the road).
- Is now 86-15 when the Steelers hold a lead at halftime.