Steelers “Studs and Duds” from Week 3 against the Texans

Studs and Duds takes a look at the winners and losers from each of the Pittsburgh Steelers games during the 2020 season. Check with us after every game each week for our list, and to also see who climbed, or fell, down the rankings.

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Eric Ebron

Tight-end Eric Ebron, who the Steelers acquired as a free agent this offseason, had himself a game today in the team’s 28-21 win over the Houston Texans

He led the team in receiving with 53 yards and picked up several first downs for the Steelers’ offense.

But Ebron made his mark on this game with a highlight-reel catch for Pittsburgh’s first touchdown of the day. With the Steelers down 14-3, and Ben Roethlisberger backing the offense up on 3rd and Goal with an intentional grounding penalty, the offense needed to make a play on 3rd and goal, and Ebron did just that.

Hopefully, this is just the start of many red zone plays for Eric Ebon, who has made a name for himself in that area of the field during his career.

James Conner

It’s been a while since Steelers fans have seen a monster game from running-back James Conner, so his performance today was refreshing, to say the least.

The Houston Texans came into this game as the second-worst rushing defense in the league, and the Steelers took advantage.

Conner finished the game with 18 carries for 109 yards on the ground, and 4 receptions for 40 yards through the air. He played a huge role in the 4th quarter, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 6:24 left, and running out the clock on the Steelers’ final possession of the game.

Anthony McFarland

Rookie running-back Anthony McFarland hadn’t played a snap for the Steelers so far this season and looked electric against the Texans.

He racked up 42 yards on 6 carries and showed flashes of the burst and explosive playability that the Steelers drafted him for in the fourth round.

Chukwuma Okorafor

Right-tackle “Chuks” Okorafor made his second start of the season filling in for Zach Banner and followed up his performance in week 2 with a stellar game against the Houston Texans in week 3.

This game was going to be a huge test for “Chuks” matching up against J.J. Watt on the right side of the offensive line, and he passed with flying colors.

Watt made a few plays against the Steelers but mostly struggled all day to beat Okorafor, especially in pass protection.

Devin Bush

There weren’t many individual standout performances on the defensive side of the ball, but linebacker Devin Bush made enough plays to earn a spot in the studs column this week.

He performed well as a biltzer, picking up a sack, and pressuring Deshaun Watson on a few other occasions as well.

But his best play of the game was a pass breakup in the end zone against Houston tight-end Darren Fells. Bush was beat on the play and it looked like Fells would haul in a touchdown and put the Texans up 14-3, but Bush didn’t give up on the play and punched the ball out.

The Texans eventually scored on that drive, but it was a huge play by the Steelers’ linebacker.

Vince Williams

Bush’s counterpart, linebacker Vince Williams also had a big game for the Steelers.

He only made 2 tackles in the game, but his presence was felt by the Texans in the running game. He consistently filled gaps and disrupted running plays when he was in the game, and picked up a sack as well.

Like Bush, Williams also made an impressive pass break-up on Darren Fells in this game. It looked like Watson had completed a pass to his tight end on 2nd and 15 in the Texans’ first drive of the 4th quarter, but Williams punched the ball out of his hands and forced a 3rd and 15 that eventually ended the drive, keeping the Steelers within one score in the game.

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Steven Nelson

It hasn’t been an impressive season for cornerback Steven Nelson so far, and he didn’t do anything to buck that trend in Sunday’s game against the Texans.

He was burned by Texans’ wide-receivers on several occasions, including a 14-yard touchdown reception to Will Fuller V at the end of the 1st half.

To be fair, Nelson didn’t have a particularly terrible game and didn’t have his name called too often in the 2nd half, but someone had to make the duds column this week and Nelson seemed like the weak link in the secondary in the 1st half.

The Steelers pass rush

The Steelers’ defensive line shut down running-back David Johnson and the Texans’ running game, but they had a somewhat disappointing performance in rushing the passer.

The Texans came into Pittsburgh giving up the most quarterback pressures in the NFL, and the Steelers were leading the league in sacks, quarterback hits, and pressuring opposing quarterbacks. It looked like a perfect matchup for the Steelers’ defensive line, but they didn’t live up to the expectation.

To be clear, it wasn’t a poor game for the Steelers’ pass rush (they did sack Watson 5 times after all), but they just didn’t take over the game the way that you would expect for such a huge mismatch.

Benny Snell

It was another underwhelming performance by second-year running-back Benny Snell.

The Steelers didn’t give Snell too many opportunities to get into a rhythm and prove himself this week, but he didn’t do much with opportunities he had either, picking up just 11 yards on 7 carries. He was simply outplayed by Anthony McFarland in the running back rotation.

But, on a positive note, he didn’t fumble the ball this week, which would’ve proven disastrous for his future playing time after putting the ball on the ground in each of the Steelers’ first two games.

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