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PRO FOOTBALL : Oilers Get First Win in Pittsburgh Since 1978

November 16, 1987| From Times Wire Services

PITTSBURGH — Entering the season, Warren Moon had one game in mind that he wanted to win more than any other, and Sunday he accomplished his goal.

Moon completed 18 of 24 passes for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the Houston Oilers to a 23-3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Coming into the season, this was the one I wanted to win more than any of them," said Moon, whose team had not won in Pittsburgh since 1978. "To win the division you have to win in Pittsburgh."

The Oilers improved to 6-3 and remained tied with Cleveland for first in the AFC Central Division. The Steelers (5-4) are a game behind.

Houston is off to its best start since 1980, when the Oilers finished 11-5 and made the playoffs as a wild-card team.

Houston's Mike Rozier, who missed last week's 27-20 loss to San Francisco after being injured and undergoing alcohol counseling, returned Sunday and carried 27 times for 99 yards and caught 4 passes for 45 yards.

Moon passed to Curtis Duncan on a 14-yard touchdown play with 6:37 left in the third quarter to give Houston a 10-3 lead. The touchdown was set up when Moon passed to Drew Hill for a 46-yard gain and a first down at the Pittsburgh two. A one-yard loss by Rozier and two 10-yard penalties moved the ball back to the 23, but Moon passed to Rozier for nine yards before connecting with Duncan on a third-and-goal play from the 14.

On the Oilers' next series, Moon and Hill teamed up on a 42-yard touchdown pass play to make it 17-3. Hill, a former Ram, finished with 4 catches for 107 yards. It was the second consecutive 100-yard receiving game for Hill, an eight-year veteran.

Tony Zendejas kicked two fourth-quarter field goals, the second a 40-yarder with 4:18 left.

The loss was Pittsburgh's worst to Houston since a 29-3 defeat in 1971. The Steelers, punchless offensively for the final three quarters, beat Houston in eight of their previous nine meetings.

Houston, which hasn't led the AFC Central this late in the season since last winning the division in 1980, hadn't beaten Pittsburgh since a 23-20 overtime victory in Houston in 1984.

"It wasn't a pretty sight," said Steeler Coach Chuck Noll.

Steeler quarterback Mark Malone was taken out in the fourth quarter after completing only 7 of 22 passes for 89 yards and throwing one interception. Malone, who was booed for much of the game by the sellout crowd of 56,177 at Three Rivers Stadium, was replaced by Bubby Brister.

Malone, booed loudly during the Steelers' last home game, a 23-20 victory over Cincinnati on Oct. 25, was increasingly jeered Sunday and Brister's entrance brought a loud roar from the crowd. But Brister also struggled, completing 3 of 7 passes for 10 yards and 2 interceptions.

The Steelers' running game, hampered when the NFL's leading rusher, Earnest Jackson, injured his back in the first quarter, generated only 86 rushing yards. Jackson managed only one yard in four carries, and punchless Pittsburgh never crossed midfield in the second half.

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