PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers got two quick touchdowns from Antonio Brown, but needed Ben Roethlisberger's fourth touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to secure a 37-27 win against the Detroit Lions Sundayafternoon at Heinz Field.
The Steelers defense also deserves some credit. After getting torched by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in the first half, Johnson was held to one second-half catch and two early touchdowns.
The Steelers defense bent, but didn't break on Detroit's opening drive from the 20 to the 31 with two third-down conversions. On a third-and-two, Stafford hit Bush in the flat for 17 yards. And on third-and-seven, he connected with tight end Joseph Fauria for 14.
On third-and-three from the 31, however, Stafford had two incompletions. He missed Bush in the flat with the first attempt and couldn't connect with Johnson on fourth down. Taylor was one-on-one with Megatron on the fourth-down play and couldn't hold on with tight coverage.
The Steelers turned the ball around and quickly drove the other way. Le'Veon Bell ran for 13 yards to get things started, and Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller twice for a 14 yards and a first down. After a Kelvin Beachum false start, a rarity since he took over at left tackle, made it third-and-11, the Ben to Brown show took center stage.
Roethlisberger hit Brown for 11 yards for the first down, as the wideout caught a short pass and got the needed yardage on his own. On first down from the 34, Roethlisberger found Brown open on the right side, and he slipped cornerback Chris Houston's tackle and covered the remaining distance for the touchdown to complete an eight-play, 68-yard drive in3:58.
The Steelers defense forced a three-and-out, and it didn't take Roethlisberger and Brown long to ding the Detroit defense once again. On third-and-seven, the two combined for a 13-yarder into double coverage near the sideline. It was a nice touch on the pass and good concentration by Brown. Then, Roethlisberger found Brown downfield where he outraced the Lions for a 47-yard score to give the Steelers a 14-0 lead through one quarter.
Detroit finally got on the board with its ensuing possession, but it took 10 plays and nearly five minutes to go 50 yards. And after an 18-yard run by Joique Bell and 16-yard pass from Stafford to Johnson, the drive stalled. And David Akers had to kick a 35-yard field goal that banked off the left upright and in.
After three horrible plays by the Steelers offense and another horrendous punt by Mat McBriar that gave the Lions the ball at the Steelers 45 after a 13-yard run, Bush fumbled. It was forced by Will Allen and recovered by Lawrence Timmons. He returned it 29 yards to the 32.
The Steelers had two big plays from there, a 10-yard to Miller and 11-yarder to Markus Wheaton. Bell ran down the line and gained four yards. An incomplete pass to Bell that could have been caught made it third-and-six, and pressure on Roethlisberger forced a pass to no one in the right corner of the end zone. Miller and neither of the top three wideouts was targeted at all in the series. Shaun Suisham kicked a 25-yard field goal to get something out of the drive.
It didn't take long for Detroit to answer, as Stafford found Johnson open downfield. Taylor arrived late, grabbled him and spun him around. However, he didn't tackle him, Taylor's second missed tackle on Megatron, who spun around and kept running for a 79-yard catch-and-run for the touchdown. That cut the Steelers lead to 17-10 with 10:13 remaining until halftime.
It didn't take the Steelers long to get their offense going again, as Roethlisberger connected with Wheaton for 21 yards. He was getting more time because Emmanuel Sanders had a right foot sprain and would not return. On second down, Roethlisberger hit Bell in the flat, and he ran for a 43-yard pickup to the 12. As usual, however, that's where the Steelers offense gets dementia and forgets how it got there.
A short pass to Jerricho Cotchery bounced in the air and should have been picked off. On second down, Roethlisberger threw to Miller in the end zone. He had both hands on the ball, but a hard hit and landing jarred it loose. It was close, but no review was called for on the play. Suisham kicked a 34-yard field goal to cap the seven-play, 64-yard drive in 2:54.
If you're wondering when misfiring in the red zone would come back to bite the Steelers, you didn't have to wait. On the ensuing possession, the Lions drove 74 yards for a touchdown in five plays and 3:27. There was a 31-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew on third-and-11, 25-yarder to Kris Durham and 19-yard scoring toss to Johnson. Neither player was covered within five yards. The extra point cut the Steelers advantage to 20-17 with 3:52 remaining.
Give the Steelers defense an attaboy on the ensuing series, as it barely broke a sweat. Taylor dropped an easy interception that would have given the ball back to the Steelers in scoring range, but that's a moot point. The guy can't catch. And he can't cover Johnson one-on-one, either. Stafford hit Johnson for 23 yards to the two-minute warning, and a short pass to Bell went for 37 to the 2 since there were no defenders anywhere in sight. After an incomplete pass, Bell ran in for the score to give Detroit a 24-20 lead with 1:42 remaining.
That was too much time. Don't forget, the Steelers' McBriar still had to punt after a three-and-out. He boomed it 31 yards, and Lions got the ball at midfield with 1:02 remaining. Detroit ran 10 plays, along with a pass-interference on Taylor in the end zone and spike in 58 seconds.
There also was a false start by the Lions, so they were efficient with a 20-yard pass to Megatron where he dove for the catch and 20-yard gain. Bell ran for 10 yards, and Stafford hit Johnson for 22 to the 4. A pass-interference on Taylor made it first-and-goal at the 1, but the Steelers held from there to force a 19-yard field goal. Detroit took a 27-20 advantage into the locker room at the half.
The Steelers inched closer in the second half and even got a 70-yard punt from McBriar. Yes, that's true, and there only was a short roll with it. It was a legitimate blast. The Steelers forced a three-and-out, but Detroit rookie punter Sam Martin replied with a 59-yarder to keep the Steelers in their own territory. A 15-yard penalty against Nick Fairley put the ball at midfield, but Roethlisberger could not complete a pass. McBriar punted to the 12 for the second consecutive time, and a sack by Jason Worilds put the ball at the 2.
Martin punted to near midfield, but this time the Steelers were able to move the ball. Bell ran for a first down on third-and-short, and Ben to Brown accounted for 21 yards to the 13. Bell ran to the 7 and caught a pass for a first down to the 1. An encroachment penalty inched the ball inside the hash, but that was it.
The Steelers third-down conversion was their first after going 0-for-7. They made their first three attempts, but missed on seven straight before that one. Bell was stopped for no gain, and Roethlisberger overthrew an open David Paulson in the end zone. Bell lost two on third down, and Suisham had to kick a 21-yard field goal to get the Steelers within 27-23.
Detroit had a chance to extend its lead, but couldn't punch it in despite driving to a first down at the 10. The Steelers stiffened on defense, despite the Lions' excellent 6-for-12 performance on third down, to force a field goal. The Lions faked it, and punter-holder Martin ran for three yards. Steve McLendon forced a fumble, and Ryan Clark recovered at the 3.
On third down, Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 16-yard gain. He also hooked up with Miller for nine and 21 to the 44. Roethlisberger also ran for 10 to make it fourth-and-two to the 35. He passed to Bell for first down and connected with Jonathan Dwyer for 13 to the 20. This is where things generally get shaky for the Steelers, and this time was no different.
Brown had a drop on a first-down slant, but a pass to Cotchery went for 19 to the 1 and a first-and-goal. Cotchery had a clear path to the corner, but he stumbled and fell at the 1. Brown was open in the end zone and dropped a nice pass for the apparent score. Pass-interference in the end zone gave the Steelers a first-and-goal at the half yard line.
Dwyer pounded the line and got nothing on first down, and Roethlisberger found fullback Will Johnson open in the end zone on second down for the touchdown. That completed an amazing 16-play, 97-yard scoring drive in 8:03. That gave the Steelers a 30-27 lead with 4:46 remaining, so the defense had to step up once again to help secure a victory.
It was up to the task. Jarvis Jones clubbed Megatron within the five-yard cushion on first down. Ross dropped a pass on second down with Will Gay in coverage, and Will Allen picked off Stafford on third down and returned it 27 yards to the 34. So, all the offense had to do was kill the clock with 4:11 to go.
It was up to the task as well. It took a couple minutes off the clock and also scored a touchdown. Bell ran for a first down, and on third down from the 20 Cotchery was open down the left side. Roethlisberger lobbed it over there, and he cruised into the end zone for his seventh touchdown. He also is among the NFL leaders with conversion catches on third down. The Steelers led 37-27 with 2:29 remaining, and the defense had some points to work with this time.
And they held on for the win, as Ziggy Hood sacked Stafford on fourth down.
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