The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers played at Heinz Field, they invariably had the most disappointing home loss in recent memory. Within the closing minutes, the then unbeaten Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored the winning touchdown.
Monday Night, the Steelers return to Heinz Field, hoping to erase the stain of the Tampa loss and last week's embarrassing road loss to the Cleveland Browns (a team that the Steelers have owned over the last decade.)
The 3-3 Houston Texans are the next opponent and have one thing in common with Tampa Bay: their last game will have been a Thursday Night contest. The Texans, like the Bucs, will enjoy an extended period of rest and game planning before traveling to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers on the other hand, played last Sunday... if you could call it that. The team was beaten by their division rival in every facet of the game. Three trips to the red zone turned into as many points: 3. The defense made Browns running backs look invincible, while giving up 5 passing plays of over 20 yards.
Our preview for Monday is fairly simple: the Steelers offense needs to score points, as the defense was just as bad last season, but quickly forgotten as a weak unit when the other side of the ball put up points.
Standing in the way of this task is a Texans unit featuring JJ Watt, a player that dynamically changes games at a moment's notice. The Texans are also trying to get 2014's #1 overall draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney, back on the field for Monday night. As it would seem, Pittsburgh will have to create their own luck and avoid creating misfortune.
The Steelers may also get their own first round pick, LB Ryan Shazier, back on the field Monday. Whether Shazier will have that great of an impact will not be known until we can see him get reps on the field, but it's a step in the right direction to getting the defense healthy and playing in sync.
The Steelers offense is certainly capable, committing less penalties and only giving up 2 sacks on Ben Roethlisberger. Ben's only misfire was an interception that didn't have "conclusive evidence" to overturn. His weapons will have to contribute this week, as many dropped passes lead to a 50% completion rate last Sunday.
As for the Texans offense, the unit admirably fought back from a 24 point deficit against the Colts, but fell short in their comeback attempt. RB Arian Foster will likely give the Steelers defense the same fits the Browns backs did, as Foster is 3rd in the NFL in rushing, trailing only the Cowboys Demarco Murray and Pittsburgh's own Le'Veon Bell.
The key to getting on track will be converting stopping Foster, stopping the Texans on 3rd down and not leaving the red zone empty handed. If the Steelers can move the ball as they have, and not commit self-defeating penalties, this could be the rebound game the team needs to gain momentum in the first of a three game home stretch.