It wasn't coincidence that the Steelers deferred the opening kickoff last week against Tennessee.
Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to see how his defense would respond to a challenge he laid out during the week in light of Houston's 19-play, 95-yard touchdown-scoring drive to start the game a week earlier.
It's safe to assume Tomlin didn't like what he saw — a 13-play, 69-yard drive by the Titans that ended in a field goal.
"I know Mike T. was disappointed with what happened," linebacker James Farrior said. "It didn't work out so well, and we all were disappointed."
It has become a familiar scene, the Steelers' defense allowing opening-game scoring drives.
Twice the Steelers deferred after winning the coin toss and chose to put their defense on the field first, only to give up points. In all, they've allowed three opening-drive scores — two for touchdowns — and all when their defense started the game on the field (Houston won the toss and chose to receive).
Last year, the defense allowed three opening-drive touchdowns in 19 games.
"We are not coming out with the intensity that we need," Farrior said. "We have to be prepared for them giving us their best shot right out of the gate."
In the first two instances — opening week against Baltimore and two weeks ago in Houston — the opening drive set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Ravens scored in three plays and went on to rout to Steelers. Houston took nearly 11 minutes off the clock before scoring a touchdown.
"We can't do that anymore," nose tackle Chris Hoke said. "We have to come off of the bus firing."