The Pittsburgh Steelers were rocked by some breaking news Saturday when Ben Roethlisberger was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List prior to the Week 10 game vs. the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field. That means it was the Mason Rudolph show, and the Lions put the ball in his hands after winning the opening kickoff.
What Rudolph and the offense did was put together a beautifully balanced drive between Najee Harris runs and James Washington receptions. After a defensive pass interference call moved the ball to the Detroit 25-yard line, it was Rudolph who found Washington in the back of the end-zone on 3rd down for the score.
Chris Boswell nailed the point-after to make the score 7-0 with 9:40 left in the first quarter.
After both teams exchanged punts, it was Rudolph who made the first mistake of the game. On 3rd down a pas intended for Kalen Ballage was high and behind him, and was intercepted.
Following the turnover, the Lions were unable to even muster a first down before punting the ball back to the Steelers. After the first quarter, the Steelers defense hadn’t allowed a first down by Detroit.
The Steelers had the ball to start the second quarter, but the possession was short-lived before Pressley Harvin punted the ball away yet again. The 60-yard punt was returned more than 40-yards, giving Detroit their best field position of the game. A 10-yard run on first down gave the Lions their first, first down of the game. Two plays later it was Jemar Jefferson up the gut for the Lions’ touchdown. After the point-after, the score was tied 7-7 with 12:43 left in the half.
Pittsburgh’s offense was able to respond to the Lions’ only scoring drive of the game with a scoring drive of their own. Big catches by Ray-Ray McCloud and Diontae Johnson extended the drive into a first-and-goal situation. On 1st down it looked like Najee Harris rumbled into the end-zone for the touchdown, but a holding call on Dan Moore Jr. negated the score. The drive ended in a Chris Boswell field goal, making the score 10-7 with 4:22 left in the first half.
It was the Detroit running game with D’Andre Swift which was the dominant force on the ensuing drive. Swift had big carries to move the run-only drive into Pittsburgh territory. After a huge 21-yard gain on 3rd down, the Lions faced a 1st and goal situation with 24 seconds left in the half. The Lions couldn’t hit pay dirt, and it was a tie game 10-10 after the 20-yard field goal sailed through the uprights to end the half.
The second half started with Detroit starting the drive at their own 15-yard line, and it was another all-run drive for the Lions. After one incomplete pass by Jared Goff, the Lions decided to just abuse the Steelers’ run defense the rest of the way. The end result was a Godwin Igwebuike touchdown run. After a missed extra point the Steelers trailed the Lions 16-10 with 12:09 left in the third quarter.
Trailing for the first time in the game, it was Mason Rudolph who responded. On a broken play Rudolph was able to run the offense into Detroit territory. Another run by Rudolph, which ended with a punishing hit on Lions safety Tracy Walker, put the Steelers in a first-and-goal situation. However, three straight passes, all incomplete, resulted in a Chris Boswell field goal, making the score 16-13 in favor of Detroit with 8:26 left in the quarter.
Both teams exchanged punts to end the third quarter, and the Steelers started their first possession of the fourth quarter at the 50-yard line. It was all Najee Harris which got the Steelers’ offense into Chris Boswell’s field goal range, and the 51-yard kick was good to make the score 16-16 with 11:31 left in regulation.
When it looked like the Steelers’ defense forced a three-and-out, a running into the kicker penalty on Miles Killebrew gave Detroit new life. However, the Lions didn’t gain a yard on their next possession, punting it away to Pittsburgh with 7:09 remaining in the 4th quarter.
The Steelers’ drive stalled after Mason Rudolph missed a wide open Diontae Johnson, and the defense was called on to get the ball back to the offense as quickly as possible. Facing a 3rd and 12, the defense sacked Jared Goff to get the ball back to the offense.
With 3:22 remaining in the game, and both teams holding onto two timeouts, the Steelers weren’t able to muster even a first down before Pressley Harvin was called on yet again to punt the ball away.
After the touchback, Detroit strung together several first downs the drive stalled and the Lions again punted the ball back to the Steelers. Mason Rudolph came on with 19 seconds left and one timeout remaining and the offense decided to kneel out the remaining time and prepare for overtime.
The Lions won the coin toss in overtime and elected to receive the football. After the Steelers stopped the Lions on their initial drive, it was Mason Rudolph delivering a big pass to Diontae Johnson to move the ball into Detroit territory; however, trying to get more yards the ball was stripped and the Lions recovered.
On Detroit’s second overtime possession, two flags, one which negated a Minkah Fitzpatrick interception, put the Lions in field goal range to win the game. The Ryan Santoso 48-yard kick was no good, giving the Steelers new life. A Steelers’ three-and-out gave the ball right back to Detroit with their drive starting at their own 45-yard line. A Terrell Edmunds sack ended their drive before it started, and resulted in another punt.
With 1:46 left in overtime, the Steelers targeted Pat Freiermuth and found the rookie tight end for a first down. With 58 seconds remaining in the extra period, Rudolph hit Najee Harris to move the ball across midfield. Mike Tomlin called the Steelers’ final timeout with 29 seconds left. After hitting Freiermuth again for what could make the Chris Boswell field goal attempt closer, the rookie fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Detroit.
With only 8 seconds remaining the game ended in a tie. The last time the Steelers tied was Week 1 of 2018 when the Steelers tied the Cleveland Browns. The tie moves the Steelers’ record to 5-3-1 as they prepare for the Week 11 game vs. the Los Angeles Chargers on the road. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team.