The Pittsburgh Steelers will open their 2016 preseason tonight against the Detroit Lions and as usual, we plan to have a live blog of each half.
As far as pregame news goes, linebackers Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones reportedly won’t play Friday night and the same goes for rookie cornerback Artie Burns.
Several veterans such as Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Maurkice Pouncey and Markus Wheaton are all expected to sit out Friday night.
Rookie safety Sean Davis is reportedly dressed for action.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 12, 2016
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 12, 2016
The Steelers received the opening kickoff, returned to just past the 20. Landry Jones took the first snap, throwing laterally to David Johnson for a short gain. Eli Rogers received the end-around for about five yards. On third and three, Jones completed over the middle short to Rogers for a first down, but Alejandro Villanueva was flagged for an illegal hands to the face penalty going against Ziggy Ansah. Jones turned to the deep pass on third down, just getting the ball over a leaping defender, but Darrius Heyward-Bey could not make the catch. Anthony Chickillo made the tackle on the ensuing punt, but a Detroit penalty knocked them back further.
Starting from the 10, Theo Riddick was stopped up the middle after a short gain, with Robert Golden in on the tackle as the starting strong safety. Matthew Stafford‘s first pass attempt fell incomplete, with Ross Cockrell the closest player. Stafford threw complete to his tight end just past the first-down marker.
From the 24, Lawrence Timmons was up the middle to make the tackle on Riddick for a short gain. James Harrison was in position to defend a pass to the flat that he helped coax incomplete. On third and nine, Stafford completed to the left sideline to Marvin Jones under pressure to convert.
Golden came off the edge to trip up the runner after two yards, and William Gay make the stick on a short pass on second down. On third and six, Stafford completed to Anquan Boldin over the middle running away from Sean Davis, who was unable to bring the veteran receiver down and allowed him to run through the secondary for a sizable gain.
Stafford was under pressure again on the following play, but was able to step up and scramble back to the line of scrimmage. Riddick found room off the left side for an eight-yard gain, but met a hard end courtesy of Mike Mitchell. On third and two in the red zone, Stafford again escaped pressure to scramble for a first down, but the Lions drew a holding call. So on third and long, Stafford, Harrison found his way around the edge to finally get the sack, jarring the ball loose as Daniel McCullers, who saw considerable time on the drive, was able to come away with the live ball for a turnover.
From the 35, Jones took the snap, but Villanueva was unable to handle the inside pressure and took a sack for a nine-yard loss. Fitzgerald Toussaint took the handoff to the right for a three-yard gain. On third and 16, Jones put a deal of air under a deep pass that hung up and was nearest to a Lion, risking a turnover. Jordan Berry‘s second punt was delayed by a false start. An illegal block in the back set the Lions up with less than ideal field position.
The Lions found running room up the left side for a first down. Under little pressure, Dan Orlovsky floated a pass right in front of Ryan Shazier, who looked like he could pick it, but it was complete for five yards. On second down, Shazier missed a fill against the run, but the defense held with Cockrell made the tackle near the line of scrimmage. On third and three, Orlovsky completed over Cockrell for the first down. Doran Grant made the tackle in the flat on the following play. Shazier made the tackle for loss on second down. Jeremy Kerley had the ball in stride on a deep throw, but dropped it. Vince Williams was trailing in coverage. Rogers fair caught the ensuing punt inside the 10.
Jones looked for Jesse James, incomplete in coverage. Daryl Richardson found a small window up the middle on second down. On third and long, Jones completed to James, but shy of the first-down marker to end the first quarter. Berry’s kick from out of his own end zone cut toward the sideline near the 30-yard line in Lions territory.
Want to see that Harrison strip sack? Here you go:
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 12, 2016
L.T. Walton made the stop on first down. On second down, Ricardo Mathews put the pressure on Orlovsky, who threw an ill-advised pass that Grant was able to pick off and return for a 30-yard touchdown, which will certainly help his chances of earning a role on defense. His scoring turnover, the Steelers’ second turnover of the game, gives the home team a 7-0 lead.
Andre Roberts took the ensuing kickoff out of the back of the end zone, set down less than kindly by Steven Johnson, with Grant getting a hand on him first to initiate the tackle. From the 15, rookie Javon Hargrave was home to make the tackle for little to no gain in the nickel. Shamarko Thomas nearly cut in front of the intended receiver on the following play for an interception of his own. He certainly would have liked to have had that one, but it had some degree of difficulty. On third and 10, Orlovsky recovered from a bad snap to pick the ball off the ground and find Kerley for the first down over Thomas.
A seven-yard run was earned through some hard hitting by the Lions’ back. Thomas cut in to make the tackle for loss on second down, however. On third and four, Orlovsky got the pass off to his tight end, complete for the first down, between Grant and Davis. Grant was flagged for a horsecollar tackle, but came back to make the tackle on the next play. Davis knocked the back out of bounds after a reception in the flat, but for a first down.
Another pass into the flat dropped off to the running back found space off the left side, with Golden ultimately making the tackle inside the red zone. From the 18, with four wide, Davis freed himself from the block to make the tackle on a screen pass for a short gain. On second down, Vince Williams helped chase the tackle for no gain from the back side of a run. On third down, Orlovsky’s pass was tipped, by Hargrave I believe, and was at risk of being intercepted. The Lions got on the board with a field goal.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 12, 2016
Following a touchback, the ‘second-team’ offense was fully in place, including rookie Jerald Hawkins, who had dealt with a shoulder injury recently. Jones completed to Rogers on the first play for eight yards. On second and two, Richardson made a cut to find room for the Steelers’ first first down of the game. An inside handoff on the following play was stifled immediately for a two-yard loss. Jones’ pass was errant, but the Lions were dinged for a pass interference penalty, which explains why the throw looked misplaced.
From the Lions’ 41, Richardson tried to maneuver behind the line of scrimmage up the middle, but to no avail. On second and nine, Richardson caught the edge for first-down yardage, with the help of a block by Heyward-Bey. From the 29, Jones took to the end zone, floating it to the very back, and Heyward-Bey went up to make the competitive catch, able to get both feet inbounds for the score, giving the Steelers a 14-3 lead.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 13, 2016
Though Chris Boswell‘s kickoff went five yards deep, the Lions returner took it out, though L.J. Fort was unable to make the initial tackle. From the 19, Orlovsky’s pass was incomplete, maybe dropped, but a hold would have negated a reception anyway. The first-down pass got the yardage penalty back. Yet another screen pass up the left side went for good yardage after Thomas overran pursuit and allowed a cutback. From the 39, Grant was able to force the ball loose after a short reception, recovering the ball, but not in-bounds. The second-down pass was too hard and wide to be caught. On third and 10, Grant was unable to stay with Kerley crossing over the middle for first-down yardage before forcing him out of bounds.
Orlovsky found space over Williams in coverage down the field. He made the tackle, but appeared to be injured on the play. A quick pass to Roberts after a corner blitz produced a touchdown. It seems to me that Thomas may not have been in the position that he should have been.
Coates took a touchback with 1:52 remaining in the first half to give the offense an opportunity to run the two-minute drill. Jones took the field at the 25. Coates bobbled a screen pass that prevented him from advancing it. The second-down pass was thrown to Levi Norwood while blanketed in coverage, incomplete. On third down, Coates caught the pass over the middle to find the left-side corner for first-down yardage, but he lost the football while being tackled, with Detroit recovering.
From the Steelers’ 28, Orlovsky’s first pass attempt was high and incomplete downfield. Under pressure, Orlovsky’s next pass was partially deflected out of bounds. McCullers had some pressure on the play. On third down, the pass was incomplete, but a Steelers penalty for offsides gave them another play. A conversion on the ensuing play yielded a scoring opportunity. A short run on first down followed a timeout with under 30 seconds to play. The second-down pass went into the dirt. On third down, Cockrell came in on the blitz and was able to deflect the pass. The field goal made it 14-13 just shy of halftime.
Jones’ pass was behind Coates down the field for an incompletion. Another incompletion to Norwood gave way to an inside handoff to end the first half.