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Pittsburgh — Brett Keisel saw the ball drop into his 36-year-old hands, and the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end started chugging toward the end zone.

He didn't quite make it, but the sight of the bearded veteran sprinting — more or less — in the open field proved fitting on a night the Steelers briefly turned back the clock to a time when the defense was dominant and the playoffs were a given.

Neither is the case anymore, though Keisel's dash that set up Pittsburgh's third touchdown in a 73-second stretch at the end of the first half of Monday night's 30-23 win over the Houston Texans proved anything remains possible for a team that can't figure out whether it's good or bad or both.

"Old 99," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin joked. "We'll give him the week off and see if he can get his body ready to go on a short week."

It might take that long for the adrenaline to wear off as the Steelers (4-3) made another abrupt turn in a season that remains both promising and problematic.

Booed off the field at the start of the second quarter, Pittsburgh ended the half with a 21-point eruption that buried the Texans under a series of miscues.

Houston (3-4) turned the ball over on consecutive snaps to set up short Pittsburgh touchdowns as the Texans and star defensive end J.J. Watt dropped their third straight.

"You just can't give up 21 points like that," Watt said. "Offense, defense and special teams, you just can't have that happen."

Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns, and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during the decisive stretch that moved the Steelers from down 10 to an 11-point lead.

"You stand on the sidelines long enough, you will see explosions such as that," Tomlin said. "It was good to be on the good side of it."

Roethlisberger finished with 265 yards passing. Le'Veon Bell racked up 145 yards of total offense, including a 43-yard catch-and-run with less than 2 minutes to go in the first half that became the spark the Steelers desperately needed.

"That provided the type of emotion the group needed," Tomlin said. "Then we kind of fed off that. The guys really capitalized on it."

The key for the Steelers will be to keep it going. Pittsburgh has alternated wins and losses through the first seven weeks. That's not the way to get back to the postseason after a two-year absence.

"We don't want to be satisfied with the way we played," Bell said. "It was good but there are definitely things we can do better."

Takeaways from a strange night that began with Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons falling ill on the field and ended with the Texans sick after letting a 13-point lead evaporate.

More marks in Manning's sights

Next up for Peyton Manning: the NFL passing yardage record.

It's one of the few glamorous passing records Manning doesn't own, now that he has bettered Brett Favre's mark for touchdown throws.

Manning needs about 5,000 more yards to surpass Favre in that category, and is on track to finish his career with numbers, across the board, that might never be matched.

"Peyton loves to play this game, he loves to break records and he loves to put up points," said Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who caught the first of Manning's four touchdown passes in a 42-17 victory over the 49ers.

Demaryius Thomas caught Manning's record-setting 509th career touchdown in the second quarter. Thomas caught another touchdown in the third quarter to push the number to 510.

Manning said the touchdown mark might be more special because "the touchdowns that I've thrown have helped us win a lot of football games and we've put a lot of work into winning those games."

Giants quarterback Eli Manning also congratulated his older brother.

"I sent him a text message and said congrats and I was proud of him," Eli said Monday afternoon. "I haven't gotten to talk to him yet.

"You never play for individual awards and records and that type of stuff, but that's pretty special, the touchdown record," Eli said of the mark, which now stands at 510. "I think it has an opportunity to stick around for a long, long time."

Personnel dept.

The Jaguars will be without linebacker Paul Posluszny for the rest of the season.

Posluszny tore a pectoral muscle in his chest during Sunday's 24-6 victory over the Browns, and will be placed on injured reserve.

Jacksonville also will be without defensive end Andre Branch, expected to miss six weeks with a groin injury.

... Washington coach Jay Gruden says unless Robert Griffin III is 100 percent ready to return, Colt McCoy will start at quarterback against the Cowboys next week.

Griffin has been sidelined since dislocating his left ankle in Week 2 against Jacksonville.

Also, linebacker Brian Orakpo is done for the season because of a torn right pectoral muscle and will need surgery.

Orakpo twice has torn the pectoral muscle near his left shoulder in the past, including in Week 2 of the 2012 season.

... Bills running back C.J. Spiller had surgery to repair a collarbone injury, and it's uncertain if his season is over.

Buffalo also will be without co-starting running back, Fred Jackson, who could miss up to four weeks with a groin injury.

... 49ers center Daniel Kilgore is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery today for a fractured left ankle sustained against the Broncos.

... The Rams released receiver Austin Pettis, who caught 12 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown this season. He made 11 starts in four seasons with the Rams, who drafted him in the third round in 2011.

... The Falcons placed center Peter Konz on injured reserve with a left knee injury.

Konz is Atlanta's fourth starting offensive lineman to suffer a season-ending injury.

Atlanta also signed offensive tackle Jonathan Scott, wo played for Detroit, to the 53-man active roster.

Extra points

Neither Cowboys owner Jerry Jones nor coach Jason Garrett wanted to talk about whether contract talks would begin for Garrett, who is on the last year of his deal.

"We've got so many contracts that we're supposed to be needing to be talking about now that things are going good," Jones said. "I'm not even going to begin to start anywhere."

Garrett wouldn't address whether his agent and Jones will talk during the season about an extension.

"I know where I need to focus, where our team needs to focus and it needs to focus on playing our best," he said. "That's what I think about."

... A Phoenix court lowered the bond used to release Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer from jail after he was arrested on charges that he assaulted his wife during arguments at their apartment.

Dwyer has been out of jail since posting bail hours after his Sept. 17 arrest.

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