Houston 24, Pittsburgh 6

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Cornerback Aaron Glenn returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns Sunday as the expansion Houston Texans overcame a miserable afternoon on offense to hand the division-leading Pittsburgh Steelers a crushing 24-6 setback.

Nickel back Kenny Wright added a fumble return for a score, helping Houston (4-9) win consecutive games for the first time in its brief history.


"I hope we take this to the next game and the next season," Texans linebacker Jamie Sharper said. "Pittsburgh has a great defense. It was our defense against their defense. I think we showed what Houston can be."

The Texans got no help from their offense, but they received plenty from Pittsburgh (7-5-1), which was guilty of turnovers, dropped passes, breakdowns on the offensive line and untimely penalties.

"We just couldn't overcome ourselves," said Steelers Coach Bill Cowher, whose team's lead atop the AFC North was trimmed to a game when Cleveland defeated Jacksonville with a "Hail Mary" pass.


Making his return from a near-paralyzing injury, Tommy Maddox threw a pair of interceptions and fumbled once. All three turnovers resulted in touchdowns.

"They scored 24 points and I gave them 21 of them," Maddox said. "You can put it on my shoulders. I will take the heat."

Houston turned five turnovers into 21 points after totaling 13 points off turnovers in its first 12 games.

The Steelers' first two possessions ended in defensive touchdowns as Wright returned Maddox's fumble 40 yards and Glenn sprinted 70 yards with an interception.

More astonishing than the final score were the statistics. Pittsburgh held a 422-47 advantage in total yardage and a 24-3 cushion in first downs while keeping possession for nearly 40 minutes.

"Under 50 yards, three first downs, you can't do better than that," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said.

Maddox, playing for the first time since he suffered a spinal cord injury against Tennessee three weeks ago, completed 30 of 57 passes for 327 yards. Rookie Antwaan Randle El had eight catches for 88 yards but fumbled twice.

Asked about Maddox's performance, Cowher said, "it wasn't very good."

Houston's numbers were ugly. Rookie David Carr was three of 10 for 33 yards, completing all three passes to tight end Billy Miller, meaning the Texans' wide receivers and running backs had no catches.


"The defense pitched a perfect game and we just didn't want to screw it up," Carr said. "It was honestly one of the best defensive games I've ever seen. You have mixed feelings. But we won the game, 24-6."

James Allen had 19 yards on 13 carries for Houston, which averaged only 1.2 yards per play but committed just one turnover and one penalty.

"Our offense didn't do anything," said Carr, the top pick in the 2002 draft. "We went backwards. I'd have been better off staying on the bus."

Pittsburgh's bus, Jerome Bettis, had 30 yards on 14 carries.

Houston's biggest weapon was Glenn, who made it 14-0 with his first interception return for a score and sealed the win with his second, which capped the scoring.

"We wanted to come up big in the turnovers today," Glenn said. "We don't worry about what the offense does. Our defense likes being out on the field and it showed today."

Houston benefited from a shaky Steelers receiving corps. Randle El fumbled once after a catch and Plaxico Burress had a handful of drops, including one for a potential touchdown with Pittsburgh trailing, 14-6, in the fourth quarter.


"This is probably one of the roughest days I ever had in my life," said Burress, who had six catches for 83 yards. "When you go in there and try your hardest, you should never be embarrassed."

The Texans' four wins are three shy of the record for an expansion team, which was set by the Carolina Panthers under current Houston coach Dom Capers in 1995. Capers was the defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh from 1992-94.

Latest Headlines