The Pittsburgh Steelers headed to Ford Field for a pseudo homecoming for players, and coaches, who were a part of the Super Bowl Champion XL team. However, in that game they played the Seahawks, and in Week 8 of the 2017 regular season, they played the Detroit Lions.
Matthew Stafford and the new-age Lions were looking for a statement win, and the Steelers were hoping to win three-in-a-row before heading into their Week 9 bye week, and this prime time, Sunday Night Football game started with Pittsburgh winning the toss — and taking the football.
Pittsburgh wasted little time moving the ball. On the first play from scrimmage Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 30-yard gain. Following that play were several Le’Veon Bell runs which put the team on the cusp of the red-zone. On 3rd and 1, Roethlisberger threw a beautiful pass to Eli Rogers, but Rogers dropped the pass. Chris Boswell nailed a 34-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh an early 3-0 lead.
Stafford had a chance to match Roethlisberger’s field goal drive, and he was able to do just that. Aided by a big 34-yard catch by Marvin Jones, the Lions moved deep inside Pittsburgh territory, but settled for a Matt Prater 48-yard field goal, tying the game 3-3.
After several punts by both teams, the Lions took their first possession of the second quarter and were able to drive the ball into the Pittsburgh red-zone. However, the Steelers’ defense was doing their bend-don’t-break impression and held Detroit to another Prater field goal, giving them a 6-3 lead.
With the offense stumbling, Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for a 44-yard gain on third down to set up the offense at the 5-yard line. Le’Veon Bell did the rest on the next play as the touchdown, and Chris Boswell point-after, put the Steelers up 10-6.
After Stafford moved the Lions into field goal range, and stalled again, Prater was called on for a 51-yard field goal. The boot narrowed Pittsburgh’s lead 10-9 with 2:14 left in the half.
With a two-minute drive to add to their lead before halftime, Roethlisberger again moved the team into Chris Boswell field goal range, but on 3rd and 1 Bell fumbled the football, giving the ball back to Detroit, and leaving more points on the field. It was the second turnover for the Steelers in the first half.
Only 50-seconds remained in the first half, but it didn’t deter Stafford from shredding the Pittsburgh zone defense and move into the red-zone, but it ended in a 34-yard Prater field goal, which gave Detroit a 12-10 lead heading into halftime.
Despite Detroit starting the second half with the football, an early three-and-out gave Pittsburgh their first possession of the second half. Roethlisberger continued to make good plays on third downs, and when it looked like he hit Antonio Brown for a touchdown, offensive pass interference negated the play. The drive’s end result was another Boswell field goal to give Pittsburgh a 12-10 lead.
Detroit’s next drive was more of the same, with Stafford moving the team into the red-zone without much resistance. When stopped on 3rd-and-goal from the two-yard line, the Lions decided to go for it on 4th down, and Stafford was sacked.
It took just three plays for Roethlisberger to hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 97-yard touchdown pass to give the Steelers a 20-12 lead.
After Smith-Schuster’s crazy catch and run, the Lions continued to move the ball with ease on the highly ranked Pittsburgh defense, but failed again on a 3rd-and-goal situation from the two-yard line. Instead of going for it, as they did the last possession, Jim Caldwell settled for another Prater field goal, making the score 20-15 in the fourth quarter.
Stafford continued to rack up yards against the stout Pittsburgh defense, but after hitting Golden Tate for a would-be first down, Tate fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Artie Burns. Nonetheless, the Pittsburgh offense failed to add to their lead and punted the ball to Detroit with 4:55 left in the game, down by just 5-points.
Stafford did what he had done all game, got the team into the red-zone, but again failed to convert on 4th down giving the Steelers the ball back with 1:55 left in the football game.
The Lions wouldn’t get the ball back, thanks to a defensive pass interference call, and a beautiful shuffle pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster for the clinching first down.
The win moves the Steelers record to 6-2 as they head into the bye week.