PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - With Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro back in the lineup, and James Conner resembling the Pro Bowl running back he was in 2018, the Steelers piled up 169 yards on the ground in their 28-21 win over the Texans.
It was the most rushing yards for the Steelers in a game since Oct. 15, 2017 vs Kansas City.
Conner enjoyed his second consecutive 100-yard game, totalling 109 yards on 18 attempts. He scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard run with 6:24 left.
"I trust the play calling and my line and fullbacks and tight ends," said Conner.
As hard as Conner was running, coach Mike Tomlin had no problem giving him the ball repeatedly with the game on the line.
“James is our feature runner, I’ve mentioned that repeatedly," Tomlin said. "It doesn’t mean we won’t play others. It does mean, as we distributed carries, and particularly as we find our rhythm in the game, that would include him, unless someone had an unusual hot hand.”
Unlike the Denver game when Conner gained 59 yards of his 106 on a late burst, he was strong from start to finish against the Texans. He felt he benefited from Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels and Anthony McFarland spelling him throughout the first three quarters.
He also welcomed having DeCastro back in the lineup.
"I love it, I love it," Conner said. "Anytime I know Dave's pulling, he's a beast. I can't say enough about him. His work ethic, his dedication to this game. His consistency."
DeCastro suited up for the first time this season and returned to his right guard spot.
"I had a little sprained knee in camp," DeCastro said. "I worked really hard. It isn't fun being hurt. Not being out with the guys was great motivation to get back out. The training staff worked really hard. I think I was in pretty good shape coming back, all things considered. Maybe a little rusty, a little slow here and there, but mostly I felt pretty good."
What really pleased DeCastro was running out the clock to seal the victory after the previous possession resulted in the go-ahead touchdown.
"I think we just got the lead, which was huge," DeCastro said. "That's what you like to do, close it out like that, running the ball like that, a nice long drive to put it away."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was equally impressed with the 12-play touchdown drive that chewed up seven minutes.
"It was gut check time I kept telling the guys in the huddle because my guys were gassed," said Roethlisberger. "My linemen were tired, but so were they. We didn't want to slow down. So I kept telling them it's gut-check. Dig down and see what you got, see what you can find. They did it. They just kept going. We kept running the ball. They kept opening holes and the backs kept plowing through. I can't talk enough about how proud I am of that group up front on that drive especially, because that wasn't easy."