Friday night started with severe thunderstorms scattered around Heinz Field, almost delaying kickoff, but that wasn't the only surprise throughout the first preseason game of 2016.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions took to the field, there were a lot of starters missing from the lineup. For the Steelers, superstars Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams and Le'Veon Bell did not suit up for the black and gold, but there were still plays to be made.
A slow start for the Steelers offensively was matched by a bend, but don't break defense. Matthew Stafford played in one drive and was able to move the ball with ease on third downs, often eluding pressure from the Steelers' front seven. However, his last third down resulted in a James Harrison strip sack and an Arthur Moats recovery.
Nonetheless, the Steelers and Lions were both unable to put any points on the board in the first quarter, but early in the second Dan Orlovsky would make a play which equated to points, just for the Steelers. With heavy pressure up the middle, Orlovsky would throw a pass outside the numbers which was intercepted by Doran Grant and returned for a 39-yard touchdown. The Chris Boswell extra point made it 7-0.
Orlovsky rebounded on the next possession, and drove the Lions into Steelers territory ending in a Matt Prater 29-yard field goal to make the score 7-3 with 8:00 minutes remaining in the first half. Not to be outdone, Landry Jones and Daryl Richardson drove the Steelers into Lions territory, but it was a 29-yard Jones to Darrius Heyward-Bey touchdown pass followed by another Boswell extra point to extend Pittsburgh's lead to 14-3 with 5:00 minutes left in the half.
Orlovsky would again drive the Lions offense down the field on the Steelers' backup defense, and the end result was a 7 play 81-yard touchdown drive. The Prater extra point cut into Pittsburgh's lead 14-10 with 1:52 left in the second quarter. With Pittsburgh getting a chance to try out their 2-minute offense, Sammie Coates fumbled the football on the first series which led to another Prater field goal to make the score 14-13 Steelers at halftime.
As both teams emptied their benches with third and fourth string players, the quality of play diminished. After several failed drives by both teams, the Lions took great field position and turned it into their first lead of the game behind a Sam Martin field goal to give them a 16-14 lead.
With the 4th quarter underway, Pittsburgh would be led by Bruce Gradkowski down the field, before giving way to Dustin Vaughan due to a leg injury, which ended in a Chris Boswell field goal to give the Steelers a one-point lead. However, the lead was short lived as Dwayne Washington ran the ensuing kickoff 97-yards for a Detroit touchdown. With 13:26 left in the game, the Lions led 24-17 with a two-point conversion.
The Lions weren't done as Jace Billingsley had a great catch and run for another Lions touchdown, giving them a 30-17 lead which would hold as the final score of the contest.
The Steelers preseason record begins with an 0-1 record, and their next game will be next Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field. Game time is 7:00 p.m. EDT.