Texans lose Johnson, beat Steelers 17-10
HOUSTON—Andre Johnson turned upfield, fell awkwardly forward and clutched the back of his right leg.
In past seasons, an injury to their All-Pro receiver would've doomed the Houston Texans.
That was before they had Arian Foster.
Foster rushed for 155 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown after Johnson left with a hamstring injury, leading the Texans to a 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
"I go into every contest thinking that I'm the go-to guy," Foster said. "When the flow of the game starts going, we need certain things, and you've got to be there for your team."
Johnson was back on the sideline late to watch Houston (3-1) finish off Ben Roethlisberger and the injury-plagued Steelers (2-2). Houston coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson would undergo tests Sunday night, so his status remained uncertain for next week's game against Oakland.
"Now, if we have to go without him for a period," Kubiak said, "we're going to have to really ask some guys to step up to the plate."
The Steelers may have to do the same without their franchise quarterback.
Roethlisberger was beat up all day, sacked five times behind an offensive line missing two regular starters. The Steelers also lost running back Rashard Mendenhall (right hamstring), linebacker James Harrison (right eye) and defensive end Aaron Smith (foot sprain) during the game.
Roethlisberger played until the end, but he was wearing a protective boot on his left foot afterward. He wouldn't speculate on his availability for next week's game against Tennessee.
"I don't know. I'm still worrying about this game," he said. "It's still too fresh in my mind to worry about next week yet."
Banged up or not, Harrison ripped the Steelers' performance.
"I'm not happy with any of it," Harrison said. "It's a loss. I'm not trying to look for a silver lining in any of it. We played like garbage. Period. We stink right now."
Foster, meanwhile, finally looked healthy after weeks of nursing a left hamstring strain. He broke a 42-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter after the Steelers rallied to tie it at 10-all. Foster finished with 30 carries.
"It was my first game back, really, fully, and I felt 100 percent," Foster said. "It was a nice welcome back and those guys were really welcoming."
Matt Schaub threw a touchdown pass to Owen Daniels in the first half. The Texans led 10-0 at the break, and an ill-timed penalty cost them another touchdown.
On the final snap before the half, Danieal Manning blocked Shaun Suisham's field-goal attempt, and Johnathan Joseph scooped up the loose ball and ran 61 yards to the end zone. But Manning was flagged for an illegal block well behind Joseph, and the score was nullified.
The Texans had nine penalties for 64 yards.
"A lot of times, when those things happen to teams, they can't overcome them," Kubiak said. "That wasn't the case today."
Houston was on the move in the second quarter when Johnson pulled up without getting touched.
The five-time Pro Bowl receiver was down on the field for several minutes, hushing the home crowd and the Houston sideline. He limped off to applause and walked to the locker room on his own.
"The way he went down was deflating," Kubiak said, "because it was like he just got shot. So that scares the heck out of you."
Kubiak gathered his offense for a quick pep talk after Pittsburgh drew even at 10-all.
"He just said it didn't look the same as it did in the first half," Daniels said. "It didn't matter how we felt it looked; it didn't look the same to him. He just sent a message to us that it was going to take a little more."
Without Johnson, Schaub looked for Daniels again and completed a 30-yard pass to his tight end early in the fourth. Foster took it from there, breaking outside and outrunning the Pittsburgh secondary on a 42-yard sprint to the end zone.
Antonio Smith and Mario Williams sacked Roethlisberger, and linebacker Connor Barwin swatted away his fourth-down pass with 2:38 left.
The Steelers had one last gasp after Houston had another touchdown wiped away by a penalty. Joseph intercepted Roethlisberger's pass from the end zone and returned it for a score, but rookie J.J. Watt was flagged for roughing the passer.
The Texans got an interception that counted by Jason Allen to end the drive and clinch the win.
Foster set the tone on Houston's opening possession, running over, around and through the Steelers' defense, gaining 41 yards in all. He had a pair of 5-yard runs to the Pittsburgh 1, and with the Steelers keying on him, Daniels was open and Schaub found him for an easy touchdown.
The score finished a 19-play drive that consumed 10 minutes, 55 seconds, both franchise records.
Notes: Texans RB Ben Tate left with a groin injury. ... The Texans have outscored their opponents 76-13 in the first half this season. ... Roethlisberger has been sacked 14 times this season. ... The Steelers failed to generate a turnover and are minus-10 in turnover margin this season.