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Steelers at 6-2 heading into the bye

Posted Oct 30, 2017

A couple of touchdowns on offense, and some huge stops on defense, led to the 20-15 win.

The Steelers head into the bye week with a 6-2 record, after a hard-fought 20-15 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

“Anytime you get an opportunity to come from behind in a hostile environment you are happy and excited about it,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “I can’t say enough about the effort. We weren’t perfect, but boy we showed fight, resiliency.”

Ben Roethlisberger completed 17 of 31 passes for 317 yards, with JuJu Smith-Schuster as his primary target. The rookie receiver caught seven passes for 193 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown reception, the longest in Steelers history.

“It’s a blessing, it’s an honor to play here and show the world what the Steelers are made of,” said Smith-Schuster.

The defense held the Lions to just three points on three goal line stands, twice stopping them on fourth down. Matthew Stafford completed 27 passes for 423 yards, but the defense didn’t allow them in the end zone, holding them to five field goals.

“I love this defense,” said Roethlisberger. “It’s so much fun to watch.”

The Steelers got the ball to start the game and immediately went to the air. Roethlisberger hit a wide-open Smith-Schuster for a 41-yard gain to the Lions 34-yard line. Le’Veon Bell then went to work, with runs of seven, three and eight yards. But on third-and-two from the Lions 16-yard line, Eli Rogers couldn’t hold on to what would have been an easy touchdown. The Steelers had to settle for a 34-yard Chris Boswell field goal, taking an early, 3-0, lead.

Stafford also aired it out early for the Lions. Stafford avoided pressure, then fired deep to Marvin Jones for a 43-yard gain to the Steelers 36-yard line. Stafford added completions to Golden Tate for four yards, and Dwayne Washington for six yards to move the chains again. A couple of false start penalties, and some tenacious defense, slowed down the Lions, bringing on Matt Prater to tie the game, 3-3, with a 48-yard field goal.

On the next drive Roethlisberger had the offense moving with completions to Smith-Schuster, for 18 yards, and Jesse James, for 10 yards. But he went deep to Antonio Brown in a crowd and it was picked off by Glover Quin at the Lions 17-yard line. The Steelers dodged a bullet thanks to the defense. On third-and-six Cameron Heyward sacked Stafford for an 11-yard loss, forcing the Lions to punt.

The Lions took the lead when Prater hit his second field goal of the game, a 37-yarder to go up, 6-3, early in the second quarter. Stafford helped set the field goal up when he hit Jones for a 33-yard gain to the 10-yard line. A holding call pushed the Lions back to the 20-yard line, and two incompletions forced them to go for the field goal.

It took Antonio Brown until the Steelers fifth offensive series to make a catch, a nine-yarder at the start of the drive. It was his second catch, though, that would be huge. Brown pulled in a 40-yard reception to the Lions five-yard line, putting the Steelers in prime position. Bell got the call on the next play, and took it in for the five-yard touchdown, putting the Steelers on top, 10-6.

The Lions wasted no time getting some of it back. Stafford hit T.J. Jones for a 25-yard gain and Jamal Agnew picked up 12 yards on a short pass. Prater was called upon again, and brought the Lions to within one, 10-9, when he hit on a 51-yard field goal.

The offense was clicking for the Steelers as the half was running out, with Brown pulling in receptions for 13 and nine yards, and Jesse James pulling in a big reception and getting free for a 32-yard gain. But on third-and-one, Anthony Zettel knocked the ball out of Bell’s hands after he had the first down, and Quin recovered, and the Lions took over at their own 21-yard line.

The Lions took advantage. Stafford hit Marvin Jones for 18 yards, T.J. Jones for 34 yards and Tate for 11-yards. But the defense once again kept the Lions out of the end zone, and Prater hit his fourth field goal, giving the Lions a 12-10 halftime lead. 

A 19-yard punt by Sam Martin gave the Steelers great field position to start their next drive. Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for 18 yards, but they struggled after that. An unnecessary roughness call after a hit to the head on James gave the Steelers the ball at the 11-yard line. An apparent touchdown to Brown was nullified when he was penalized for offensive pass interference. They couldn’t get the touchdown back, and had to settle for a 38-yard Boswell field goal, which hit off the uprights and back through, giving them a 13-10 lead.

The Lions drove the ball down to the one-yard line on the next series, where they had three opportunities to punch it into the end zone. The defense would have no parts of it though. On third-and-one Javon Hargrave and Vince Williams stepped up for the stop, and the Lions went for it on fourth-and-one, but Tyson Alualu sacked Stafford for a one-yard loss and the Steelers took over on downs.

With their backs against the wall at their own two-yard line, Bell went for three yards, and on the next play a holding call pushed them back to the three-yard line. Roethlisberger then went to Smith-Schuster, who pulled in the reception and took off running for a 97-yard touchdown, the longest touchdown reception in Steelers history, extending the Steelers lead to 20-12.

The Lions came fighting back, but the defense shut them down at the goal line again, and they had to settle for Prater’s fifth field goal of the night, closing the gap to 20-15.

After the offense couldn’t go anywhere, the Lions once again got rolling. But the defense would come through again. Tate fumbled after a 34-yard reception, and Artie Burns was there for the recovery.

The defense came through again in the closing minutes of the game, once again stopping the Lions on fourth down inside of two minutes, giving the Steelers the ball back. A defensive pass interference call on third-and-six gave the Steelers a first down, and they moved the chains again on a completion to Smith-Schuster to secure the win.

Notes: Bell tied Eric Dickerson for the fewest games to reach 7,000 yards from scrimmage in NFL history at 55 games. Bell also set a Steelers record for the fewest games to reach 7,000 yards from scrimmage. The record was previously held by Jerome Bettis at 75 games.

How they scored: A detailed look at today’s scoring.

First Quarter: Steelers 3, Lions 0
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 34-yard field goal.  
Scoring Summary:  7-59-2:48

First Quarter: Steelers 3, Lions 3
Scoring Play: Matt Prater 48-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 8-45-4:22

Second Quarter: Steelers 3, Lions 6
Scoring Play: Matt Prater 37-yard field goal. 
Scoring Summary: 8-39-3:33

Second Quarter: Steelers 10, Lions 6
Scoring Play: Le’Veon Bell five-yard run.
Scoring Summary: 9-75-5:01

Second Quarter: Steelers 10, Lions 9
Scoring Play: Matt Prater 51-yard field goal.    
Scoring Summary: 6-42-1:56

Second Quarter: Steelers 10, Lions 12
Scoring Play: Matt Prater 34-yard field goal.    
Scoring Summary: 8-63-0:43

Third Quarter: Steelers 13, Lions 12
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 38-yard field goal.    
Scoring Summary: 9-28-4:08

Third Quarter: Steelers 20, Lions 12
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 97-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster.  
Scoring Summary: 3-98-1:24

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 20, Lions 15
Scoring Play: Matt Prater 19-yard field goal.      
Scoring Summary: 10-74-5:07