PITTSBURGH STEELERS VS. DETROIT LIONS
Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013
Heinz Field; 1 p.m.; FOX
PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR CALVIN JOHNSON
Steelers players and coaches have spent this week trying to come up with appropriate praise for the wide receiver they consider to be the best in the game. Coach Mike Tomlin probably said it best when he described Johnson as “young Randy Moss Minnesota Vikings-like scary.” At 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds, “Megatron” is a matchup nightmare. He has 904 receiving yards and nine TDs in eight games. As the saying goes, you can only hope to contain him.
DT NDAMUKONG SUH
The often-fined, always-nasty defensive tackle has a team-leading 4.5 sacks and always brings an old-school attitude to the trenches. Since entering the NFL in 2010, Suh is second among defensive tackles in sacks with 24.5. He leads a defensive line that isn’t shy about wreaking havoc by any means necessary and appears as intent on intimidating as he is dominating. Perhaps young Mean Joe Greene Pittsburgh Steelers-like scary is the applicable description here.
ABOUT THE LIONS
Detroit improved to 6-3 with a statement-making, 21-19 win last Sunday in Chicago that completed a season sweep of the division-rival Bears. It’s the first time since the NFL realigned in 2002 and created the NFC North that Detroit has been in first place this late in a season. The Lions haven’t won more than two in a row this season (the win against the Bears was their second straight) but they also haven’t lost consecutive games.
THE LIONS’ OFFENSE
Detroit is No. 16 in total offense (21st rushing, third passing). The Lions average 21.8 points per game at home and 32.3 points per game on the road. QB Matthew Stafford has been sacked 10 times on 373 passing attempts. With 15,643 career passing yards Stafford needs 68 to pass Hall of Fame QB Bobby Layne (15,710) for the most in Lions’ history. RB Reggie Bush is No. 6 in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (966: 623 rushing, 343 receiving). Rookie TE Joseph Fauria has five touchdowns on nine receptions.
THE LIONS’ DEFENSE
Detroit is No. 24 in total defense (eighth rushing, 27th passing). The Lions held the Bears to 38 yards rushing in last Sunday’s victory, the first time they had allowed no more than 38 yards on the ground since Nov. 13, 2005. LB DeAndre Levy is tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions (tops among linebackers), including a 66-yard pick-six (one of two defensive TDs for the Lions). Detroit is No. 2 in the NFL in third down conversions allowed (30.8 percent).
THE LIONS’ SPECIAL TEAMS
Detroit suffered a blocked field goal and a shanked punt that set up the winning field goal drive in what became a 27-24, last-play loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 20. K David Akers is 3-for-6 on field-goal attempts between 40 and 49 yards but 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards away. Akers has an NFL-best 376 field goals since 2000. The Lions are No. 4 in the NFL in net punting average (42.3 yards per).