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Analyzing the Steelers preseason win over the Lions, by the numbers

The Steelers got off to a great start with Ben Roethlisberger leading the offense.

Detroit Lions v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 preseason is rolling on and game number three is in the books. While the outcomes of these games are basically meaningless, the Steelers have improved to 3-0 going into their final preseason game next Friday night at Carolina. But before we jump on that train, there is still plenty to break down from the Steelers 26-20 win over the Lions.

So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers win over the Lions.


Ben Roethlisberger ended his first preseason appearance of 2021 with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Completing 8 of 10 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns, Roethlisberger worked efficiently and also showed he could throw the deep pass during the 16 snaps he saw in the game.


The fans in attendance at Heinz Field not only got to see a touchdown by rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth, they got to see two of them. Both touchdowns came from Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter of the game. In all, Freiermuth finished with only those two receptions for 19 yards.


Pittsburgh Steelers only had one punt the entire night. It was on the first drive where the Steelers went three and out after beginning with a 5 yard penalty on Chuks Okorafor and a third down drop by Eric Ebron. The punt came 1:35 into the game where Pressley Harvin punted the ball 50 yards and there was a 3 yard return. The only other drive of the game for the Steelers which did not score points was the final drive in which the Steelers ran out the clock.


Although he only had 10 rushing yards on four attempts, 2021 first-round draft pick Najee Harris had a magnificent 46-yard catch and run on the first play of the Steelers third drive of the game. It was Harris’ longest play this preseason as well as the longest play for the Steelers in this game.


A very close second in distance for the Steelers came in the first quarter in the form of a 43-yard reception by Diontae Johnson. Facing third down with 3 yards to go on their own 25, Roethlisberger got the Steelers in the scoring position with the deep ball connection to Johnson.


After getting off the slow starts in the first two preseason games, the Steelers had a pretty impressive first half. On the defensive side of the ball, they only surrendered 65 yards to the Detroit Lions in the first half with 30 yards coming on the ground and 35 coming through the air.


The Steelers played a clean game in the turnover department for the first time in the 2021 preseason. Although Mason Rudolph did have a very dangerous pass in the end zone that likely should have been an interception, the Lions did not make the play and the Steelers ended up with a field goal. But the others zero which came into play was the Steelers also had no takeaways in the game.


While there were some great moments that looked impressive with the Steelers rushing attack early on Saturday night, the overall production of 2.9 yards per carry has a lot to be desired. Ultimately, what the Steelers need with their rushing attack is consistency as Najee Harris had as many negative rushes as he did positive ones due to some miscues with the blocking.


In all, the Steelers moved the ball effectively against the Lions. With 401 offensive yards, the Steelers had 280 yards alone in the first half with 131 coming on the three drives in the second half.


After highlighting how the Steelers had only scored seven points in the first half of the first two preseason games combined, and those points came in the final two minutes of the second game, the Steelers put up 20 points in the first half at Heinz Field. Not only that, the Steelers had a resounding 14-0 lead in the first quarter when Ben Roethlisberger exited the game.

So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ third preseason game of the 2021 season. It wasn’t pretty at the end of the game when the Steelers were holding on for dear life, but the Steelers dominated early on with their starters to win the game and get some much needed work between Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

So what numbers from Saturday night’s game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.