Credit Larry W. Smith/European Pressphoto Agency
HOUSTON — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 20 of 29 for 226 yards passing and two touchdowns as Pittsburgh clinched a first-round playoff bye with a 34-6 win over the Houston Texans on Monday.
Despite lacking Antonio Brown, the N.F.L.’s leading receiver, who sat out with a calf injury, Roethlisberger threw passes to six players as Pittsburgh (12-3) romped past the lowly Texans (4-11).
The Steelers led by 20-0 at halftime after taking advantage of two turnovers by the Texans. Le’Veon Bell added a 10-yard scoring run late in the third quarter, and the rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster made it 34-6 with an 18-yard touchdown grab in the fourth.
Bell finished with 14 carries for 69 yards, and Smith-Schuster had six receptions for 75 yards.
Quarterback T.J. Yates was 7 of 16 for 83 yards and a touchdown for the Texans, who lost their fifth straight game and for the eighth time in nine games. Yates made his second straight start since Tom Savage sustained a concussion. Yates left Monday’s game briefly to be evaluated for a possible concussion, and his replacement, Taylor Heinicke, sustained a concussion on his only full possession.
Roethlisberger was replaced by the backup Landry Jones with about six minutes remaining and the game well in hand.
The Steelers hurried and harassed Yates all day, Mike Hilton leading the way with three sacks and three quarterback hits while Cameron Heyward had two sacks and forced a fumble.