Steelers vs. Texans: A Look Back at the First Decade

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Because the Houston Texans are the N.F.L.’s newest team, they haven’t had much of a storied series with essentially any franchise outside of their own division.  In fact, Houston has only played three games against Pittsburgh in their nascent history.  Since I usually do a Top 5 Countdown of the best games between the Steelers and their upcoming opponents for my Wednesday articles, I came to find myself in a bit of a pickle.  So instead of constructing a countdown, I’m just going to go over each game that has been played between these two franchises from 2002-Present.  I figure it’ll be a nice way to give you the readers a chance to reminisce about these relatively recent games that are probably still fresh in your minds.  So click on that “more” button, and let’s get this party started:

December 8, 2002

Trapped in “The Twilight Zone”

Texans 24 – Steelers 6

People usually ask me why I refer to this first ever meeting between the 7-5-1 Steelers and the 3-9 expansion Texans as “The Twilight Zone Game.”  But for those of you in Steeler Nation like me that remember watching it, I don’t think there is any other moniker that fits this specific game quite as well.  Never before (and probably never again) in my entire life will I witness another football game quite like this one in terms of the strangely negative things that happened to one team at such an alarming rate.

I for one knew that the game would end poorly for Pittsburgh when the Steeler Offense kept committing a litany of mistakes “right out of the blocks.”  In the 1st Quarter alone, Houston accumulated 14 quick points and literally did nothing on the Offensive side of the ball to put them on the scoreboard.  Houston drew first blood midway through the 1st Quarter when Steelers’ QB Tommy Maddox fumbled and Texans CB Kenny Wright ran it back 40 yards for a TD.  To make matters worse, Maddox threw an INT to Texans CB Aaron Glenn on the following possession, and Glenn promptly took it back 70 yards to the house!

Before Halftime, all the Steelers could scrounge up was a 33 yard Jeff Reed Field Goal and found themselves down 14-3 despite the fact that they had dominated every statistical facet of the game (Offense, Defense, Special Teams) except for the turnover battle.  The Steelers did manage to pull within striking distance after Jeff Reed nailed his second Field Goal of the day from 40 yards out, and there was at least a glimmer of hope for Steeler Nation.  The score stood at 14-6 early in the 3rd Quarter and I at least thought that the Steelers could still pull it together to win “ugly” that day.  But in a game where the Steelers outgained the Texans 422-47 in Total Offense, the 8 point deficit was the closest that Piitsburgh would get because of utterly idiotic mistakes in the form of turnovers.

The 4th Quarter only furthered the notion that this was not the Steelers’ day and that no matter how hard their shoddy Defense tried, the Offense would be the death of them that day.  Houston got a 43 yard Field Goal from former Steelers Kicker Kris Brown and put the final nail in the coffin when Aaron Glenn took his 2nd INT of the game 65 yards the other way for his 2nd Pick-6 of the game!

To truly understand how ridiculously absurd this game was, let’s look at a few statistics shall we:

The Steelers committed 5 turnovers, and 3 of them put 21 points on the board for Houston on the same play which they were committed (Fumble Return, Glenn’s two Pick-6’s).  The Steelers gave up 6 sacks and Tommy Maddox was forced to throw the ball 57 times that day because of how behind Pittsburgh was!  The Steelers’ Defense had 4 sacks of their own, limited the Texans to just over 1.4 yards per carry, and the longest completion they allowed Texans QB David Carr all day was 15 yards!  Carr finished with a stat line that read 3-10-33 yards!  33 yards passing from the winning QB!  And the most awful yet telling stat of all:  The total amount of yards that the Steelers gave up was 47!  That’s right, they gave up 47 total yards and LOST the game by 18 points.

When people ask me why I’m so hesitant to laud gaudy offensive statistics that are put up in today’s football games I’ll always tell them the story of this game.  I simply tell those that feel statistics tell the whole story about a game the story about “The Twilight Zone Game,”  and how on one early December morning the Pittsburgh Steelers proved that the most important statistics in any and every game are how many turnovers a team commits, and how many points the opposition scores off of each turnover.