By Matthew Marczi
After the Pittsburgh Steelers got off to a blistering start against the Detroit Lions, with wide receiver Antonio Brown going for two long touchdowns to finish off Pittsburgh’s first two drives of the game, they were forced to withstand a torrid attack in the second quarter that completely reshaped the game.
When the onslaught began, the Steelers were leading 17-3, but by the time it ended, the Lions were up 27-20, scoring all 27 in the second quarter, and they did so without the aid of turnovers.
Matthew Stafford first hit Calvin Johnson for a 79-yard catch-and-run into the end zone following a missed tackle by Ike Taylor. Stafford found Johnson again on a 19-yard pass to culminate a five-play, 74-yard drive, and then Joique Bell found the end zone from two yards out late in the half.
It could have been worse, however. The Lions nearly put another touchdown on the board just before halftime, but the defense came up big at the goal line to gain some momentum heading into the second half.
I don’t know that the game would have gone differently if the Lions capped the second quarter with another seven rather than three, considering the Steelers won by 10, but it certainly felt meaningful at the time that they entered halftime trailing by seven rather than 11.
Considering all three plays took place from the one, it does seem more impressive, but when you consider that the Lions elected not to run on any down despite still having a timeout, maybe you can question the playcalling some as well.
The Lions tried a quick slant on first down, but William Gay did his job, staying in front of the receiver and getting a tip on the ball to knock it out of reach. The throw is good. The defense is just better.
Stafford thought he could get a quick pass off to Reggie Bush on second down, lined up wide to the right. But Taylor read the play perfectly and became the receiver on this pass, nearly coming up with the interception. For good measure, Troy Polamalu laid Bush out just to prove that he wouldn’t have scored even if he caught the ball.
Cameron Heyward came up with the pass deflection on third down. The pass deflection. Not the batted ball. As in he dropped back into coverage. He actually looked pretty athletic doing it too. He’s gotten to five balls so far this year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls one in soon.