Big Ben proud of how Steelers WRs stepped up vs. Texans

The Pittsburgh Steelers took advantage of a weak opponent in their first full game without Antonio Brown, demolishing the Houston Texans 34-6.

Before exiting the blowout early, Ben Roethlisberger completed 20 of 29 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns to six different pass-catchers.

"It was fun to spread the ball around to everybody today. [I was] really proud of the way they stepped up," Big Ben said after the game. "I was thinking of AB not being out there and trying to fill those shoes. You can't fill [Brown's] shoes. I told them don't try to fill them, just be the best you can be. And I thought everybody did a great job of it tonight."

Martavis Bryant is rounding into form after early-season struggles in his return from a year-long suspension, enjoying his best two-game stint since the 2015 playoffs. Each of Bryant's three receptions Monday afternoon went for a first down, including a gorgeous 36-yard sideline corral. The 6-foot-4 wideout displayed run-after ability and deep speed to stretch the offense.

While Bryant played the big-play role usually reserved for Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster took the target workload. The rookie saw seven passes his way, leading the team with six receptions for 75 yards and a TD. On the Steelers' final scoring drive, Smith-Schuster displayed his diversity. First, the young wideout took a short pass for a 49-yard scamper. Three plays later he burned the Texans secondary on a pristine route for a touchdown.

With a first-round bye clinched, the Steelers don't need Brown to return until the second week of January. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the team expects Brown to be 100 percent healthy when he returns. Getting the MVP candidate back will be a game-changing boon for Pittsburgh, but the Steelers proved on Christmas they still have other weapons in the passing game.