Spread 'em Out; Carve 'em Up

Mike Prisuta says Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers should go after the Houston Texans' secondary the way Drew Brees did last week.

The Steelers head to Texas ranked No. 23 in the NFL in rushing, which seems to be cause for great concern in some circles. They're also No. 1 in pass defense -- that secondary No. 1 for the love of God -- but nobody seems to be making a big deal about that.

Neither designation is worth celebrating or losing any sleep over.

Those numbers were achieved during what Mike Tomlin likes to call September football and they're destined to adjust.

By the time the Steelers are playing December football both will look much more like you expected them to back in August.

* The Saints averaged 6.2 yards per carry and wound up with a 13-10 pass-run split in their play selection in the first half against the Texans and went to the locker room having been outgained 301-177 and trailing, 16-10. The deficit would have been worse had Houston not kicked field goals from the New Orleans 4, 9 and 9-yard lines.

In the second half the Saints threw on 31 of 43 offensive snaps, amassed 296 total net yards and scored 30 points on the way to a 40-33, come-from-behind triumph.

There's much to be gleaned from those numbers, and from the way the Saints went about compiling them.

When they got the ball back down 33-32 with 4:13 remaining the Saints got particularly serious with their passing game.

They went to an empty-set, five-wide look and then went about the business of carving the Texans up.

Houston responded with a 4-1-6 alignment that didn't include linebacker DeMeco Ryans and couldn't stop the run or the pass.

Wade Phillips or no Wade Phillips you can still throw all day on the Texans, especially at cornerback Kareem Jackson (No. 25) and safety Glover Quin (No. 29 )

* Gary Kubiak's take on that point is you shouldn't be able to throw all day on the Texans.

"When (the Saints) spread us out we still tried to come get them, playing some three-deep, three-under with just some zone pressure," he said. "We just did not cover well enough in the fourth quarter, especially in the last drive. We gave up too many easy plays, I would say. We didn't make them work the way that we should've made them work.

"To go down there and score the go-ahead touchdown, just too many easy throws."

* Of course before you can throw it you have to protect it. But the Texans pass rushers (J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith, Connor Barwin and Mario Williams) are more traditional pass rushers as opposed to speed-freak hybrids. The Steelers' offensive line will have a better appreciation and understanding of what's required.

And the Texans brought more than four just twice on the Saints' seven consecutive pass attempts on what became the game-winning drive.

* Should the Steelers find themselves in need of 2 yards they absolutely, positively have to have they can borrow from the two two-point conversions the Saints converted. Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph was victimized on both, quick outs to wide receiver Lance Moore on what appeared to be the same play.

* Warren Sapp was right about this much -- the Steelers are old.

According to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News the average age of the Steelers' starting lineups on opening day was older than every other team in the NFL (29.04).

The youngest was Seattle (25.50).

Baltimore was No. 31 at 28.13.

The NFL average was 27.06.

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