LIONS 30, STEELERS 17
Steelers' record: 0-1
One year ago: 0-1
Preseason series record: Lions lead, 11-8-0
Game action from the Pittsburgh Steelers' first preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
Forty-eight hours before kickoff, Coach Mike Tomlin ruled out the following players: Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, and Le'Veon Bell. And it figured that many of the other returning veteran starters would see limited playing time. From the guys who were going to see the bulk of the playing time vs. the Lions, this is what Tomlin said he wanted to see:
"We want to see the guys play, some we want to see more than others, some we want to evaluate in ways that may dictate reps. In general conditioning and such, we might challenge some people. There really won't be any prescribed rhythm to it, just rest assured that we're looking for growth and development in all areas. These are some expectations, things we are looking for in the game. I want to see collectively that we're developing into a tough team to beat. By that I mean that we play fundamentally sound and keep penalties to a minimum, and that we take care of the football. For those who handle the football, ball security is paramount. If you're going to be a tough team to beat, you have to do a great job in that area. Thus far in camp I think we've done a good job in that area, but I want to see us carry it over into some stadium play. Lastly, we have to play hard. I've been impressed with first, our conditioning, and secondly, our willingness to play hard at this point in the journey. But we have to take that into a stadium environment. I think those are the three things the first time out that we're really looking for."
HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT**
Coach Mike Tomlin couldn't have been very pleased with how things worked out in the areas he had designated. The Steelers ended the game plus-1 in turnover ratio, but WR Sammie Coates, who is expected to take a big step forward in his second NFL season to help the offense, fumbled twice and lost one of those.
In third-down situations, the Steelers offense converted just 2-of-17 (17 percent), while the Lions converted 12-of-19 (63 percent). Detroit scored a special teams touchdown on a 96-yard kickoff return, and the Steelers were penalized nine times for 72 yards.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Steelers didn't play Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams, and Maurkice Pouncey, and the offense struggled mightily without those stars. At the end of the first half, the Steelers offense had 35 yards rushing and 46 net yards passing; it was 0-for-5 on third downs; and with the exception of Landry Jones' 29-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward Bey, the longest gain from scrimmage was 12 yards.
It's often said that special teams touchdowns provide a big lift for the team that scores one while sticking a dagger into the team that allows one, and so it was in the fourth quarter of this game. After Chris Boswell's 37-yard field goal gave the Steelers a 17-16 lead with 13:38 remaining, Dewayne Washington returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to help the Lions re-take the lead.
QB Bruce Gradkowski injured a hamstring and had to leave the game; OT Brian Mihalik injured a knee and had to leave the game; and Ross Ventrone injured a hamstring and had to leave the game.