STEELERS 28, TEXANS 21

5 observations from the Texans loss to the Steelers

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The Texans are 0-3 after at least putting up some fight before they were dominated in the second half in a 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh. It was once thing to get wasted by the Chiefs and Ravens, and the Steelers are better than them as well, but at some point you have to beat these teams. Three tries, three failures. And it was not as close as the score. They were outgained 387-260, out-first downed 25-13, out-possessed 36:51-23:09.

Here are five thoughts from the game:

1) Once again, Watson just wasn't good enough. We pointed out how Deshaun Watson had not been elite over his last 10 games. Make it 11. He was terrific in the first half, but the Steelers adjusted and shut him down in the second half. Watson threw a pick on third and long in the fourth quarter, but it really was not an awful play - he was trying to make something happen on a tough down. It essentially functioned as a short punt. But he did nothing the rest of the half. It did not help that they had no running game (see No. 2) and untimely penalties hurt as well, but the Texans need Watson to win games for them, and to do that, he needs to be great. He was 19 of 27 for 264 yards, two touchdowns, the pick and was sacked five times. Good. Not great. And not good enough.

2) The running game is a real problem on both sides of the ball. The Texans defense for the third week in a row could not stop the run, allowing 173 yards and an average of 4.9 per carry. Conversely, the Texans managed just 29 yards on 15 carries, a pathetic 1.9 per tote. You simply can't win football games like that.

3) This is what the defense will be. Don't laugh; the defense actually played OK - for what they are. This is a below average unit lacking talent at all levels. They did get two sacks, but for the most part they just aren't good enough to stop solid NFL offenses. They will have to get a few stops here and there and rely on their offense for the Texans to win games. (Of course, they can't really rely on the offense, can they?) They don't get turnovers, they don't stop the run, they con't cover well. The guys on the field are playing hard and OK for what they are, but this defense simply lacks any real difference makers other than J.J. Watt, who can be neutralized since he has no help.

4) Tight ends will always be a bane of this defense. The Steelers tight ends finished with eight catches including Eric Ebron's touchdown. The Texans have never been able to stop tight ends, other than a brief stretch when they had Tayshaun Gipson on the team last year. There really is no reason to complain about this, because it will never change.

5) Today's O'Brien blame goes to...O'Brien the GM. He did nothing to fix his defense in the off-season, and that unit isn't getting it down. Yes, we could also bring up his horrific offense, getting out-adjusted at halftime, but then that is O'Brien the coach. The GM gets the blame today.

The McNairs love him, so he will be fine, but any other coach/GM would be firmly on the hot seat.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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