The Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping for a perfect 2022 NFL Preseason, but more than their undefeated record, they were hoping to put their best foot forward before heading into the regular season. Their opponent in the preseason finale was the Detroit Lions at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers won the opening coin toss, and elected to defer their possession to the second half. Putting the defense on the field, Tim Boyle hit T.J. Hockenson for a big gain on first down, but following the first down the Pittsburgh defense stiffened, forcing a Detroit punt.
Mitch Trubisky took over with the starting offense, but the drive was short-lived. Facing a 2nd and 6, Trubisky took a sack on a rollout, only to be sacked again on 3rd down and forcing Pressley Harvin III into early action.
Detroit’s second possession lasted just three plays, gaining one yard, before the Steelers took over at their own 15-yard line for their next possession. The drive was vastly improved compared to their first drive, and a huge pass from Trubisky to Diontae Johnson put the Steelers in Detroit territory.
However, once the offense hit the red-zone, they started moving the wrong way and had to settle on a 45-yard Chris Boswell field goal to give them a 3-0 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
It looked like Detroit’s ensuing drive would be a quick one, but a draw on 3rd-and-17 equated in a 20-yard first down run. The drive continued into the second quarter, but a first down sack by Minkah Fitzpatrick put the Lions behind the chains. On 3rd-and-15, Boyle’s pass was intercepted by Cam Sutton and set up the offense inside the red-zone.
Despite the turnover, the Steelers failed to even gain a first down before putting Chris Boswell back on the field for a 34-yard field goal. The kick was good, making the score 6-0 in the early minutes of the second quarter.
The Lions started their next drive on their own 15-yard line, and eventually faced a 4th-and-1. Devin Bush and Myles Jack blew up the play, creating a turnover on downs. The Steelers’ offense was set up in the red-zone, but the offense failed to reach the end-zone for the third time. Another Boswell field goal made the score 9-0 with 8:47 left in the first half.
Detroit’s next drive resulted in another punt, and Trubisky remained in the game with 5:17 left in the half. A three-and-out gave the ball right back to Detroit, and the Lions followed suit giving the ball back to Pittsburgh with 1:34 left in the second quarter.
Trubisky remained in the game to execute the two-minute drill, and Trubisky and the Pittsburgh offense responded. Trubisky had big passes to George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth to set up the offense at the 5-yard line with 15 seconds left. With one timeout remaining, Trubisky hit Steven Sims on first down for the first touchdown of the game.
The Boswell point-after was good, making the score 16-0 heading into halftime.
Kenny Pickett took over at quarterback in the third quarter, but his first drive stalled with just one first down. Detroit’s first possession of the second half was one of their better of the game, but with the once-promising drive stalled with back-to-back pass break ups at the line of scrimmage, and equated in a 36-yard field goal. The score stood 16-3, in favor of Pittsburgh, with 10:01 left in the third quarter.
Pickett’s second drive was more of what fans had grown accustomed to seeing in the preseason. The former Pitt product was able to throw with anticipation, and the offensive line was getting push in the running game. Nonetheless, much like Trubisky in the first, the drive stalled in the red-zone. However, Chris Boswell’s 29-yard field goal attempt was blocked, and the Steelers 16-3 lead remained unchanged.
Following another Detroit punt, Kenny Pickett started going to work. Big completions to Tyler Vaughns and Cody White moved the offense into Detroit territory as the third quarter came to a close. As the field got shorter, the Steelers’ drive stalled. This time, the Boswell field goal, from 54-yards, was good, making the score 19-3 with 12:59 left in the 4th quarter.
Detroit had their best drive of the game following the Boswell field goal, and this time they were dominant on the ground. It didn’t matter who was running the ball, the Lions were able to grind their way into the red-zone for the first time. Facing a 4th and goal, the pass was dropped and resulted in a turnover on downs.
Mason Rudolph entered the game for the Steelers, and a defensive pass interference call got the offense out of their own end. However, a 3rd down pass to Jace Sternberger fell incomplete and put Pressley Harvin on the field, giving the ball back to the Lions with 5:19 left in the game.
The Lions’ offense continued to find ways to extend plays, and drives, as the game came to a close. Inside two minutes, the Lions were able to drive into Pittsburgh territory and threaten to add to their point total. After completing back-to-back fourth down conversions, Detroit faced a third straight fourth down situation. With 45 seconds left in regulation, a facemask penalty on the Steelers gave the Lions new life. On 3rd and goal the Lions finally hit pay dirt, making the score 19-9 with 30 seconds left. Detroit went for the two-point conversion, and failed. The 19-9 score stood as the final score of the contest.
Pittsburgh’s win kept their preseason record perfect, 3-0, but now the team has to prepare for the games which count. The first one of those will be the Week 1 game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals on the road on September 11th. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they get ready for the regular season.