The Steelers enter the second half trailing the Lions 12-10 on the strength of four Matt Prater field goals, including two from deep. Pittsburgh settled for a field goal on their opening drive, but later scored from the five on a Le’Veon Bell run.
The big difference so far has been the turnover ratio. Ben Roethlisberger over threw Antonio Brown deep in triple coverage that was picked off by Glover Quinn, who later also recovered a Bell fumble at the 21-yard line, just outside of the red zone.
Before that first field goal, Roethlisberger was accurate on a ball to Eli Rogers in the end zone that should have been a touchdown.
Following a touchback a and a loss of one, the Lions gained six on the ground to set up third and five. Under pressure, Matthew Stafford’s pass fell incomplete, tipped by a Steeler, Tyson Alualu I think. The following punt was off the side of the punter’s foot, out of bounds before the 50.
Roethlisberger bounced a screen pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, incomplete. Bell picked up six yards on second down. He went back to Smith-Schuster, breaking a tackle at the marker and then some for a big gain.
Darrius Heyward-Bey got free in the end zone, but Roethlisberger couldn’t connect with him, the ball slightly long, but perhaps a drop. I’ll have to look closer at it later. Bell picked up two yards to set up third and eight. Jesse James took a shot to the head, unnecessary roughness for a free first down.
Now from the 11, Bell off the left edge was able to fight his way for two yards. Roethlisberger and Brown connected in the end zone, but the play was wiped out by a pass interference on Brown, making it second and 18. He threw low for Brown on the following play, leading to third and 18. The Lions completely blew up a crossing route to Brown for no gain, sending him spiraling in the air. Chris Boswell’s field goal bounced off the crossbar, but in, to retake the lead, 13-12.
The Lions from the 22 after a return on the kickoff, Golden Tate caught a pass for 18 down the field, and Sean Davis was flagged for a personal foul on the initial hit, though I’m not sure I agree. From midfield, the Steelers stopped two runs short to set up third and 10. T.J. Watt’s spin move left the left side of the field free for an 11-yard scramble.
Another first-down gain up the ball at the 27. A back-shoulder to T.J. Jones for 23 set up first and goal inside the five. Dwayne Washington was short but down to the one on first and goal. Stafford under pressure threw an errant pass incomplete. On third and a foot, the front line stood firm, Javon Hargrave and Vince Williams on the hit to set up fourth and goal. Stafford tried to run for it late, but a late spin by Alualu put him in position to make the goal-line stop and force a turnover on downs.
From the two, Bell picked up three yards after the change of possession. After a six yard run, Roosevelt Nix was called for a hold, wiping it out and making it second and long. Roethlisberger overthrew a wide open James for what should have been an easy conversion. Now third and nine, Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster in stride, who outran three trailing defenders for a 98-yard touchdown.
After taking a 20-12 lead, the Lions worked to get their way back into scoring position, picking up about 15 yards in two plays. Abdullah bounced off some contact for a seven-yarder to midfield. On second and three, Riddick ran away from Shazier for a 23-yarder into scoring position.
Another six-yarder on the ground, Tate set up first and goal at the five. With nowhere to throw, Stafford had to throw incomplete. The second-down run got down to the two, and the defense swarmed to stop them on third down, Williams and Davis. Prater did add his fifth field goal, making it 20-15.
After quickly getting into a third and seven, Smith-Schuster straight up dropped the ball for what would have been a conversion. And that’s the way the rookie bumbles.
Jordan Berry got good distance on his punt to the 20, returned to the 29.
After a nine-yard pass, Abdullah got to the outside for a couple yards and a new set of downs. Davis stopped the screen pass for a loss. On second and 11, Stafford found Tate down the field, but he fumbled on his own and Burns recovered it.
Taking over at the 24, Bell squeezed through a crack for eight. On second and two, Ziggy Ansah was able to chase him down from behind for a loss of three. Smith-Schuster didn’t drop this one, however, for another third-down conversion. After two yards on the ground for Bell, Alejandro Villanueva was flagged for a false start, which made it second and 13. The Lions were on Bell right away for a loss of two. Now third and 15, with Chris Hubbard coming out injured and Matt Feiler in, Roethlisberger checked down to Bell for just three. The quarterback took a hit that wasn’t flagged after the throw.
Heyward-Bey did a great job of forcing a deep fair catch.
Watt was in coverage over the middle, getting a hand on the pass for an incompletion. Jones broke a tackle on Hilton and Watt, getting around to Burns, making the tackle. Third and three, Eric Ebron converted on third down to the 36. Haden intercepted the pass, but the Lions had a free play because of too many men on the field, and offside. On first and five from the 41, a screen to Abdullah picked up four. The secondary let Ebron run free, getting past Davis to set up first and 10 at the 11 for 44 yards.
Stafford looking for Jones threw incomplete on first down. A catch to Tate over the middle went for five. The defense blew up the run for a short loss, setting up fourth and sseven from the eight at the two-minute warning. The Lions have all three timeouts. The defense got pressure and forced a bad throw, Shazier nearly intercepting to force a second turnover on downs.
Bell up the middle for a few forced the Lions to use their first timeout. Roethlisberger threw incomplete, an evident miscommunication to Brown, giving the Lions a free timeout they don’t have to use. On third and six, Roethlisberger looked for Eli Rogers, who drew a pass interference call against Darius Slay. Good call.
Bell went for about six off the left side, the Lions using their second timeout. Bell added another three to set up third and one, the Lions using their final timeout. Smith-Schuster got the shovel pass for about four or five for the first down. That sealed the win, and the Steelers were able to take a couple of knees to secure their sixth victory of the season, keeping pace for the best record in the division.