It was a tale of two halves with the Pittsburgh Steelers maintaining control in the 1st, but the Detroit Lions bounced back in the second and exposed the Steelers’ defense.
The Steelers started off very slow with three consecutive 3 and outs. Alejandro Villanueva struggled early on as he was beat inside, once getting called for holding and another giving up a sack. The Lions had a solid opening drive and were poised to score when James Harrison came up with the sack/fumble on Matthew Stafford and Arthur Moats recovered. Aside from that play, another good thing to come out of the start was Jordan Berry’s deep punts averaging 60 yards.
Then within the first minute of the second quarter, Dan Orlovsky was pressured by Ricardo Matthews and forced a throw which fell into the hands of Doran Grant, who took it 38 yards to the house. And thus the Steelers drew first blood.
The Lions would respond with a long drive consisting of several dump off passes to the running backs in the flats. However, the Steelers defense tightened up in the red zone, forcing Detroit to settle for a Matt Prater chip shot field goal.
On the ensuing drive, the Steelers dealt Detroit a healthy dose of Daryl Richardson as they rushed their way into enemy territory. It all culminated in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Landry Jones to Darrius Heyward-Bey on a fade route, with Heyward-Bey showing his great field awareness as he barely got two feet down in the back of the end zone.
Late in the half Orlovsky connected with Andre Roberts, who was wide open due to an apparent missed assignment by Grant in the secondary, for a 28-yard touchdown.
Shortly after, Sammie Coates made his first catch of the game on a drag route, but when attempting to juke the defender he fumbled giving Detroit the ball at their own 27. Detroit would take advantage with a field goal.
Despite converting just one third down in the half, and with Detroit dominating the time of possession, the Steelers proved to be opportunistic and led 14-13 going into halftime.
The second half started off slow once again for both teams. Detroit was the first to strike in the 3rd quarter, however, with a 42-yard field goal by Prater.
Midway through the 3rd saw the start of the Steeler’s first long drive of the game. However, it resulted in Bruce Gradkowski coming out with a hamstring injury, and offensive lineman Brian Mihalik leaving with an apparent knee injury. Dustin Vaughan then came in hoping to deliver a touchdown on the long drive, but the Steelers settled for a 37-yard field goal by Boswell to regain the lead.
On the kickoff immediately following, Dwayne Washington to take Chris Boswell’s kick 96 yards for a touchdown. (Boswell went diving for the tackle, nearly forcing every Steelers fan into cardiac arrest). The Lions completed a 2-point conversion.
The next time Detroit’s offense touched the field, it was more dink and dunk, coupled with a Rudock scramble, that led to a 27-yard touchdown throw and catch from Jake Rudock to Jace Billingsley, partly aided by several missed tackles. Prater missed the extra point.
That would be the final scoring of the game as Detroit would go on to win 30-17. It appears that a lack of third down conversions and missed tackles were the Steelers’ Achilles heel in this one.