Steelers Vs. Lions Week 10 Recap: PFF Snap Totals & Grades

In a cold, wet, and sloppy overall game the Pittsburgh Steelers could not capitalize against the struggling Detroit Lions in an overtime tie, bringing their record to 5-3-1. In this article I will provide data from Pro Football Focus and takeaways from watching the film.

Let’s start with the offense:

Fullback Derek Watt toped the PFF grades for the offense at 91.8 with guard Kevin Dotson and quarterback Mason Rudolph with 70+ grades and thought Rudolph’s grade was too high. Five Steelers had below a 50 grade, including tackle Dan Moore, wide receiver James Washington, tight end Zach Gentry, running back Kalen Ballage, and tight end Pat Freiermuth.

The Steelers offense took the field to open the game with Rudolph getting the start in place of Ben Roethlisberger who was out on the COVID list. On first and ten, Rudolph came out with a play action pass to his former college teammate in Washington on a quick slant for the successful play and gain of six yards. Second down was a run with good seal blocks from guard Trai Turner and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor along with good push from Dotson to create some space for running back Najee Harris, who fought through a low tackler that pushed Watt to the ground on the five-yard gain and first down.

Another run here on first down, Freiermuth let the defender slip off his block, but Harris was able to cut and make him miss at the line of scrimmage for positive yards on the three-yard gain. Second and seven Rudolph made a good play to corral a high shotgun snap from center Kendrick Green and found wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud on the out and up with space between the defenders on the first down catch and gain of 11 despite Moore being pushed back into his face. Back to Harris on the ground on first down, but Okorafor was pushed into the backfield and allowed the tackle on the three-yard gain. This set up second and seven where tight end Eric Ebron, who last played in week six, got involved in the pass game on a short stick route over the middle and four yard successful catch that set up third and short. Rudolph threw deep but slightly underthrown to Washington who reached around the defenders helmet off his hands and into the defenders lap and intercepted, but fortunately the would be turnover was negated by a defensive pass interference on the Detroit defender not playing the ball. Big early break and first down Steelers.

Harris got the carry for his second successful run of the day for 11 yards, where Turner and Okorafor created a crease and Green got to the second level allowing the cutback and setting up another first down in the red zone. Back to Harris on the ground here, but the linebacker shot immediately and freely into the backfield to trip him up but falls forward for a gain of two. Rudolph then had a chance to hit Freiermuth close to the goal line, but the pass was too high and incomplete setting up third and eight. Pittsburgh goes empty set here with wide receiver Diontae Johnson outside and Washington in the slot both to the right side, and the cornerback/safety communicate pre-snap but neither go with Washington’s route to the corner of the end zone for the wide-open touchdown! Great overall start to the game with and 83 yard drive down the field, capitalizing on the defensive pass interference with the score on third down, and red zone conversion! Steelers up seven!

The offense returned quickly with 8:01 in the first quarter off the defenses three and out, and opened the drive with a Rudolph play action and rollout throwing short to Derek Watt who crossed the formation from left to right and got good yards after catch on the gain of eight. On second and two Rudolph pitched to McCloud who came on pre-snap motion but there seemed to be confusion on the play call with Harris colliding into him, then Gentry was violently pushed back into the run lane on the loss of two yards. Third and four now, and Rudolph targeted Johnson well past the sticks, but the throw went over his head and unable to make the leaping grab on a great separation route. The offense goes three and out, Steelers still up by seven.

With 4:27 in the first quarter, Pittsburgh opened the drive with a successful five-yard run where Gentry had a good seal block and good combo block from guard Kevin Dotson with Harris staying on his feet on the tackle for an extra yard. Johnson caught the second and five pass off a nice route, faking inside then breaking out to gain seven yards and the first down despite Moore got beat around the edge. Rudolph went play action on first and ten, felt pressure allowed by Okorafor and Gentry, and throws a wobbly pass on the move to McCloud who was able to slide down and make the grab for 17 yards and first down!

Rudolph got the quick slot screen to Johnson on first down, but the corner read and reacted quickly to get inside Washington and make the tackle for a loss of two. This set up second and 12, where Rudolph looked for deep routes but started to feel the pocket collapse again (Moore, Turner, Okorafor), so Ballage got the dump off target, but it was dropped setting up third and 12. Rudolph seemed to look for Johnson who was double teamed, then after pressure allowed by Okorafor, threw high and behind Ballage for an interception! The interception counts this time, five of six plays were passes, Steelers lead still seven.

Harris ran the ball on first down with 20 seconds left in the first quarter, noted Green and Dotson providing good blocks on the gain of four to close the quarter.

To open the second quarter, the drive continued with an incomplete pass to McCloud on second and five where the corner read and reacted quickly to break it up. Third and five now, and Rudolph targeted McCloud again but in the flat short of the sticks and only able to gain one on a good tackle by the Lions safety resulting in a three and out. Lead still at seven.

Pittsburgh’s offense returned with 12:43 in the second quarter, starting things off poorly with a false start penalty on Johnson, setting up first and 15. Dotson let his man slip of his block late to stuff the Harris run for no gain here. On second and 15 McCloud ran a stop route in front of the Lions zone coverage for a seven-yard gain for a more manageable third and eight. Rudolph dropped back and with Moore and Dotson getting pushed back got off another wobbly pass that was caught by Johnson for the first down and nice moves for yards after catch on the explosive third down conversion! The following first down was a Detroit penalty for too many men on the field, setting up first and five. McCloud went in pre-snap motion, then took the pitch in front of Rudolph but had nowhere to go on allowed penetration by Moore and loss of four. This set the Steelers back to a second and nine going to McCloud again, but this time on a post route and reception then taking a huge hit but doing a great job securing the ball for the 15-yard gain! The Lions suffered their fourth penalty of the game (second on this drive) here, this time an offsides setting up first and five.

The Steelers continued the drive on the ground with good pulling blocks from Freiermuth and Dotson, but Harris could only gain two on the good defensive play. On second and three Rudolph faked a pitch to Johnson who was in motion, then Harris got the toss to the left with great blocks from Dotson, Green, and Moore which allowed the cutback on the successful run for 9 yards! First and ten was another Harris rush for three yards, able to find some space behind Green’s push (then fell to the ground) but unfortunately Dotson came off the snap obviously in pain, leaving the game here and would not return! On second and seven, Steelers now in the red zone and offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer in at left guard for Dotson made a great block along with Green and Turner to create a big gap on the fourth straight rush play and pretty 12-yard gain!

On first and goal Moore was unfortunately penalized for holding, which negated the Harris carry around the left side that he ran with power for the score! First and goal instead from the 17-yard line and the Steelers went three straight passes, the first on a short delayed route to Freiermuth for a gain of six. On second and goal Johnson went in motion then got the target on the short out route that was tackled quickly for a short three-yard gain. Third and goal now, Freiermuth ran a quick out/screen behind the line of scrimmage and good effort for yards after catch but could only get six of the needed eight yards, setting up kicker Chris Boswell for the 20-yard field goal. Nice long drive but huge penalty, three points instead of seven, Steelers led by three.

The offense returned with 12:04 in the third quarter and Rudolph play actioned then rolled to his right looking for Gentry, then Freiermuth, and eludes back left where the offensive line was selling the run with good second effort blocks from Green, Hassenauer, and Harris out in front on the 26-yard quarterback scramble! The following first down was pass to Freiermuth over the middle that was low and nearly picked by the defender dropping late under the route, falling incomplete. Harris got the carry on second and ten but Green and Turner were pushed back, the later not holding his block forcing Harris to elude way behind the line and luckily getting out of bounds near the line of scrimmage where Detroit hit him and got the 15-yard personal foul penalty. This set up first down, where Johnson ran an out route at the sticks, but the defender broke the pass up out of his hands incomplete. Harris got a healthy seven-yard successful run on second and ten, eluding the safeties tackle attempt at the line of scrimmage and running hard through defenders to the sideline. Third and three now, and a good pocket for Rudolph on the Harris dump off behind the line getting yards after catch and a first down on the gain of five!

Detroit suffered another penalty as the drive continued, this time offsides where Rudolph went deep for Johnson incomplete on the free play, but he was also penalized for offensive pass interference which offset. Replaying first down, the toss went to running back Benny Snell with a good blocks by Moore and McCloud in the backfield for the successful four-yard gain. This set Pittsburgh up in the red zone on second and six, Rudolph targets Washington deep but underthrown in the back of the end zone and broken up. Third and six now, Rudolph decided to scramble quickly and takes a hard hit on the 11-yard gain, and Detroit had another offsides penalty that the Steelers declined setting up first and goal.

Pittsburgh continued to pass in the red zone, the first and goal attempt to Washington seemed to be tipped falling behind him incomplete. Rudolph rolled right on the following shotgun snap, but the defense had good coverage with Moore and Hassenauer allowing pressure that forced the throwaway. Third and goal now, and McCloud ran a stop just short of the goal line but decided to redirect when Rudolph threw, forcing the incompletion. Found it peculiar to not run here, four incompletions in the red zone, settle for a field goal, Steelers cut deficit to three.

With 4:28 left in the third quarter, the Steelers offense went to Harris on the ground behind Joe Haeg’s pull from right guard (in for Turner) but Hassenauer and Gentry allowing penetration on the short gain of one. On second and nine Rudolph was a tad late to Johnson on the stop route just past the sticks which allowed the pass break up and incompletion. Third and nine now, McCloud got great separation from the slot on the safety to make the catch and 14-yard gain on the third down conversion! Harris was stuffed for no gain on the following first down run with Okorafor and Ebron pushed to far up field allowing the defense to rally on the tackle for no gain. On second and ten Harris had a good cut and spin through tacklers on a successful six-yard run behind the lane from Haeg, Okorafor, and Freiermuth. Third and four now, Detroit blitzed with six men and Rudolph got off the deep target to Washington but underthrew him allowing the corner to break up the pass leading to a punt. Only one first down, Steelers still trail by three.

The offense returned early in the fourth quarter with good field position off the defenses three and out with a successful eight-yard run from Harris, with good blocks from Gentry, Moore, Hassenauer, and Ebron. On second and two Harris got a second successful run in a row for four yards, with Haeg creating space on the first down. Harris got the next two rush opportunities as well, the first a toss where he could not get an angle and just ran out of bounds on the two-yard gain. His second and eight run he did a good job splitting between Green and Freiermuth who were both blocked back, creating a positive three-yard gain instead of a loss. Third and five now, and Rudolph launches to Washington, despite Hassenauer being pushed back, making the grab deep right but was penalized for offensive pass interference on the push off and looked to be out of bounds as well. This set up third and 15 where Moore was pushed back into Rudolph’s short pass to Harris, and despite great effort breaking tackles was brought down short of the sticks on the ten-yard gain. Pittsburgh did come out with the 51-yard Boswell field goal, tie game.

With 7:09 left in regulation, Moore created some space on his block with McCloud pulling in front of the handoff to Harris for a gain of three. On second and seven, Rudolph play action booted to the right and found Johnson for the nine-yard catch and first down! Harris got the carry on first down but had nowhere to go with Moore and Gentry getting pushed back on the short gain of one. On second and nine Harris provided great physicality through the tackler at the line, instead gaining a successful six yards on the catch setting up third and three. Rudolph targeted Johnson who was wide open for the first down but was thrown ahead and seemed like Johnson slowed a bit, an unfortunate miscue on third down for the offense, still a tie game.

Big drive here for the offense with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter off the defenses three and out, Rudolph targeted Johnson but the pass was tipped and well covered falling incomplete. Harris took the second down run to the left but a good line battle here and only able to gain three yards. This set up third and eight where a Lions linebacker shot into the backfield in Rudolph’s face with Harris in pass protection but got the pass off to Washington where the defender tipped it in the air and luckily not picked off. Quick three and out where they really could have used the points, instead tie game still.

Pittsburgh got the ball back with 19 seconds left and Rudolph kneels it to send the game to overtime.

The Steelers offense got their first overtime opportunity with 7:32 on the clock, starting with Harris on the ground for a gain of two with the Lions defensive back trailing off the edge for the tackle. On second and eight Johnson caught the deep throw down the right sideline and great yards after catch for 36 yards, but had the ball punched out by the tackler recovered by Detroit! Huge turnover on the big play that had them near field goal territory, instead of a chance to win Detroit gets the ball back only needing a field goal. Tie game.

With 4:03 left on the clock, Pittsburgh opened the drive with great field position and a four-yard Harris run with good push from Green and Haeg. Another miscue on second and six, with Green’s shotgun snap sailing over Rudolph’s head but Harris recovers but a loss of 17! Third and 25 now, and Rudolph steps back, pumps, and overthrows to Freiermuth over the middle and very lucky it wasn’t another interception falling out of the defenders hands. Steelers can’t capitalize or put points up, and running out of time.

Another shot with 1:37 left, Rudolph made a good throw to Freiermuth for ten yards despite pressure allowed by Moore and Harris barely getting the blitzer. Rudolph went right back to Freiermuth the next play, this time dropped by a usual sure-handed catcher taking his eye off the ball! McCloud got the next short target for a gain of six, setting up third and four. Freiermuth got some redemption on the catch over the middle here, providing a third down conversion! First and ten now, and Rudolph targeted Johnson who unfortunately slipped on the incomplete pass. Ebron got the next target after slipping then getting open over the middle and hit hard after the hurdle attempt and gain of eight. Huge third and two with 38 seconds left, Rudolph stood tough in the pocket despite Moore allowing pressure and the cornerback coming free off the edge to get it to Harris behind the line but good yards after catch on the nine-yard pickup. On first and ten Rudolph was off target to McCloud who also slipped, unable to work around the coverage. Johnson got the next target and great yards after catch while also getting out of bounds close to field goal range and stopping the clock with 15 seconds. Freiermuth caught the short reception and instead of working out of bounds took a solid hit causing a monumental mistake on the fumble, a second overtime turnover when field goals seemed likely. So disappointing.

The Lions had one more opportunity with eight seconds left, running a desperation lateral final play to no avail resulting in the game ending with the tie. Pittsburgh had so many opportunities but way too many mistakes cost them a win many expected.

Now let’s look at the defense:

Cornerback Joe Haden toped the defensive grades at 90.3 along with 80+ grades from cornerback James Pierre, defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, and linebacker T.J. Watt. Four players had below 50 grades including linebackers Joe Schobert, Devin Bush, and Derrek Tuszka along with safety Miles Killebrew.

Pittsburgh’s defense took the field for the first time at 9:37 and up by seven, enjoying a Lions false start penalty right away that set up first and 15. Detroit ran a toss with running back D’Andre Swift here and Watt set the edge well with defensive lineman Chris Wormley getting off his block and making the tackle on the short one-yard gain. Behind the chains on second and 14, quarterback Jared Goff threw his first pass complete to the flat where Haden reacted quickly to make the tackle on the short two-yard gain, setting up third and long. On third and 12 Detroit went back to the ground with Swift where he made good cutback moves to get inside Watt and safety Terrell Edmunds, but linebacker Alex Highsmith accelerated to make the tackle short of the sticks on the seven-yard gain. Great job by the defense providing a three and out first drive and capitalizing on the Lions penalty, Steelers still up by seven.

With 6:37 in the first quarter, the defense allowed a nine-yard successful run where defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs was double teamed and Heyward washed out creating a big lane with linebacker Joe Schobert eventually getting off his block to tackle the nine-yard gain. Goff threw a swing pass to Swift on second and one, where Edmunds was able to rip outside the slot receivers block and make a great tackle for a loss of three! Third and four now, Goff eyes the defense, decides to hand off to Swift and linebacker Alex Highsmith showed impressive acceleration to make the tackle just short of the sticks along with Schobert for a third down run stop! Another three and out, the lead still seven.

The Steelers defense returned with 1:39 left in the first quarter, Heyward got a good push on his pass rush to get a hand in Goff’s face on his deep pass attempt that was luckily underthrown since Haden was beat downfield but recovered to break up the play. Schobert made a good play on second and ten, staying clean of blockers and making the tackle on the Swift carry for no gain. This set up third and ten with 57 seconds left, the Lions got the same result: a Swift run for no gain thanks to Watt easily throwing the blocking slot receiver to make a solid tackle. Great first quarter for the defense, all three drives were three and outs, Steelers up by seven.

Detroit’s offense got great field position off the explosive kickoff return, getting a short pass with yards after catch due to Edmunds being late to react and blocked, with Bush making the tackle on the gain of seven. Haden was also announced questionable to return here and would end up being out for the rest of the game. On second and three, the Lions offensive line got a great push overall and Edmunds was sealed which created the lane for the first down before Highsmith and Schobert could combine for the tackle. First down now, and the Steelers front including Bush and Schobert were dominated by the Lions offensive line with the running back darting between defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk and Highsmith, then split both Edmunds and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on the 28-yard explosive touchdown run! Allowed points by the Steelers defense, Lions capitalize on good field position, tie game.

With 4:16 left in the half, the Steelers defense allowed a big run to Swift for 15 yards where Buggs and linebacker Taco Charlton ended up on the ground along with Heyward missing a tackle and Schobert making contact before the sticks but great effort by the back and offensive lineman pushing for extra yards. The next first and ten, Goff play actioned to Swift then threw the short dump off pass to him with Bush coming free on the blitz along with good recognition and pursuit of the short route, affecting the throw falling behind and incomplete. On second and ten Detroit went to Swift again for the third straight play, this time a run with a good battle in the trenches and Highsmith able to get off his block for the tackle on the four-yard gain. Third and six now, and Goff completes the pass just short of the sticks, but the receiver didn’t fight forward where Schobert made the tackle for the third down stop! Detroit decided to go for it on fourth and one, Swift got the carry and conversion with Highsmith missing a tackle behind the line, defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux a diving miss, Bush missing an angle, and Fitzpatrick missing a tackle which allowed a ten-yard gain where Pierre finally made the tackle.

The drive continued after the two-minute warning and fourth down conversion with Buggs initially getting pushed off the line but getting off his block to make the tackle on the two-yard run. On second and eight Detroit keeps it on the ground with Swift and Buggs makes another tackle after a gain of five. This set up third and three where the Lions got a big play around the edge where Highsmith was unable to get off his block, allowing a big run and hurdling cornerback Cameron Sutton for more yards with Fitzpatrick finally running him out of bounds on the explosive 21-yard gain!

This set Detroit up in the red zone for first and goal with 30 seconds until halftime, running for the fifth straight play to Swift with Edmunds getting great inside penetration and Watt making a great tackle behind the line for a loss of one! Goff targeted tight end T.J. Hockenson for the first time on second goal unable to disengage from Highsmith off the line and Sutton was able to diagnose, avoid the blocker, and almost intercept the pass. Third and goal now from the eight-yard line, and back to the ground game with Swift who ran up the middle between Wormley and Heyward, the later making the aggressive tackle pulling him back away from the goal line. Good job holding them to a field goal, but four successful runs, two of which were 10+ yarders, tie game at halftime.

The defense retuned to open the second half allowing another big run to Swift for 16 yards, getting between Schobert and Edmunds behind great collective blocking then Killebrew and Fitzpatrick missing tackles and Highsmith finally making the tackle. The following first down was another run, where Swift made Killebrew miss outside but this time Watt and Schobert were able to make the tackle for the gain of only one. Goff play actioned to Swift on second and nine where they set up a screen to him, but Highsmith won around the edge and got the quarterback hit forcing the incompletion. Third and nine now, and you guessed it…another touch for Swift on the ground where Highsmith was washed out by two pulling blockers allowing the edge and Fitzpatrick finally making the tackle after 12 yards and a third down conversion allowed!

Detroit gave Swift a breather here but kept their success on the ground going, with good blocks on Wormley and Mondeaux creating the crease with Bush working off his block late for the tackle along with Fitzpatrick but allowing 14 yards. First down again, and the runner slithered between Edmunds and Mondeaux, darted past Killebrew and the blocked Bush who also missed a tackle on second effort, then Fitzpatrick being faked and tripped over his own feet, and finally Schobert missing on a diving attempt…all this allowed a HUGE 42-yard touchdown run! Huge run defense and opening third quarter issues continue with five of six plays being runs for the entire 81 yards of the drive! Detroit missed the extra point, Steelers down by six.

With 8:19 in the third quarter. Pittsburgh’s defense returned down by three points with Watt pressuring Goff off a play action rollout and a great play in coverage by Edmunds to break up the short tight end pass. On second and ten Swift got the carry with Highsmith and Edmunds unable to get off their blocks but Schobert able to stay unblocked and pursue for the tackle on the four-yard gain. Third and six now, Goff play actions and throws a short slot screen with cornerback Tre Norwood and Fitzpatrick missing tackles and cornerback James Pierre finally making the tackle on the gain of 19 and third down conversion.

The drive continued with a good run stop on first down by Heyward and Wormley! On second and nine, Swift got his second carry in a row, but Edmunds made a good tackle getting around Hockenson’s block for the edge and tackle on the gain of four. Third and five now, and Pittsburgh gets fantastic pass rush up the middle from Edmunds on the play action throw from Goff and awesome recognition and big hit on the tackle for no gain from Pierre. On fourth and five the Lions offense went for it, only to try and draw the Steelers offsides, taking the delay of game penalty that Pittsburgh declined. This time fourth and five resulted in a punt, great job by the defense tightening up after allowing a third down conversion, Steelers still down by three.

The Steelers defense returned with 1:48 left in the third quarter with a good run stop by Schobert and Buggs in on the tackle on Swift for a gain of only one. On second and nine Goff play actioned and was met by Watt for the sack, but Schobert inadvertently hit Watt’s leg forcing him to leave the game injured and would not return to the game, and the injuries pilling up for Pittsburgh! This set up third and five where the Steelers gladly accepted another Lions penalty on the false start. Third and 20 now, Goff completed the short pass to Swift where Bush made the tackle well short of the first down and only a five-yard gain. Another three and out provided by the defense, Pittsburgh trailing by three.

With 11:31 in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh’s defense provided a great run stop for no gain with Bush and Buggs getting off his block for the tackle. On second and ten Highsmith came free off the edge and got his hands in the passing lane on the short incompletion, setting up third and ten. With no defender initially covering the outside receiver, Goff threw quick to him but Norwood reacted quickly to make the tackle on the five yard gain and third down stop! Killebrew was unfortunately penalized on the punt attempt though, a weak call that set up fourth and short. Detroit went for it this time on a successful two-yard run where Buggs hit him at the line but churned for the needed yardage.

On first and ten, Buggs and Wormley cut off Swift’s angle allowing Highmith’s additional penetration to bring him down for the loss of five! Pierre did a great job avoiding the pulling blocker on the next run on second and fifteen, providing the tackle for no gain. Third and 15 now and the third Swift run in a row, Highsmith shot inside but thanks to Schobert setting the edge was able to pursue and combine on the tackle with Fitzpatrick for only three yards. Great defensive stand after adversity, still a tie game!

Pittsburgh’s defense came back with 4:27 left in the quarter, Highsmith did a great job disengaging from the blocker and pushing Swift out on the run for a loss of four yards! On second and 14, Swift got another carry with a great disengage and tackle by Loudermilk for only two yards. This set up third and a long 12 where the Steelers ran a double twist and Heyward getting to Goff for the huge sack! Huge three and out by the defense, no points allowed, game still tied.

A quick return with 2:22 left was required after the offense went three and out, Buggs and Wormley got pushed back on the first down Swift run for six yards, but Charlton pursed to get the tackle. At the two-minute warning, Goff found the slot receiver with space in front of Schobert and Pierre to gain nine yards and the first down. Swift got the carry for five yards here on a nice cutback between Wormley and Buggs, with Highsmith and Charlton combining for the tackle. On second and five, Goff threw the quick wide receiver screen where Edmunds set the edge and Wormley made the tackle just short of the sticks. Big third and one with 51 seconds left, and Swift got the target in the flat with Bush getting there for the tackle a touch late allowing him to extend the ball for the huge first down. Goff had time on this pass and decided to throw it away on seemingly good coverage by Pittsburgh. On second and ten Norwood provided a great pass break up in coverage down the field setting up third and ten. Pierre followed suit with outstanding tight coverage on a crucial third down stop! Great coverage stands, three straight incompletions to close the drive, and still tie game.

The defense took to the field first in overtime, starting with a play action pass to the open receiver with Bush trailing in coverage allowing a huge 30-yard gain but eventually pushing him out of bounds. On first and ten Swift got the carry behind pulling blockers with Schobert staying clean and making a nice tackle on a gain of three. Second and seven now, Detroit went to Swift again where Bush and Killebrew combined for the tackle for no gain setting up third and seven. Big third down stop here via the sack by Heyward here, and Highsmith also had a shot first but was held on the play and Pittsburgh declined the penalty! Great stop after allowing an explosive first play!

Pittsburgh had to come right back out on defense with 6:42 left following the Johnson fumble and appeared to respond by getting their own turnover right off the bat, but Bush was called for a crucial holding penalty negating the interception by Fitzpatrick! On first and ten Swift got the carry for two yards with Loudermilk working through two blockers and good tackle. The Steelers were penalized again on second and eight, a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Norwood. On first and ten Schobert and Heyward provided good run defense on Swift for the combined tackle and loss of two. Second and 12 now, Detroit ran with Swift once again with Highsmith unable to get off his block and Schobert over running the play allowing the lane and eight-yard gain setting up third and four. Detroit took a turn being penalized, this one on Hockenson for holding. Third and 14 now and Goff completes the short screen pass and Highsmith makes the tackle on the gain of eight and third down stop! Big mistakes allowed the Lions to try a 48-yard field goal to win the game, but the kick was no good and kept Pittsburgh’s hopes alive!

With 2:25 left, Pittsburgh’s defense came out strong with a sack by Edmunds off the edge unblocked! At the two-minute warning, Detroit faced second and 23 where Goff looked deep then threw short off the hands and dropped by Swift. Third and 23 now, Goff through a wobbly pass (possibly tipped by Loudermilk) that was nearly picked by Norwood and Detroit was also penalized for holding but Pittsburgh declined.

The Steelers had plenty of chances to win, but penalties and turnovers too much to overcome resulting in the tie.

Last, let’s look at special teams:

Arthur Maulet tops the special teams grades with the only 70+ grade of 70.5, and core special teamers Killebrew, Snell, and Allen with all below 40 grades!

McCloud took the opening kickoff return from the 3 yard-line for a short return of 14 yards. Following the offense scoring on the opening possession, the Bowell kickoff went to the end zone and returned to the 16-yard line where Derek Watt zoomed in to make a great tackle! McCloud returned his first punt early in the game for 13 yards along the sideline. Pressley Harvin’s first punt was at 6:42 in the first quarter, a 39 yarder that was fair caught at the 15-yard line. McCloud had to back pedal on a booming 61-yard punt, fielding it at the 15 and a 13-yard return straight ahead. Harvin had a stellar 61-yard punt of his own after the offense went three and out early in the second quarter, but the coverage unit allowed an explosive return with Ulysees Gilbert unable to get around his block along with blocks on Marcus Allen and Justin Layne where Harvin ended up finally making the tackle on the 48-yard return! The kickoff following Boswell’s first 20-yard field goal make went for a 29-yard return where Snell missed the angle on his tackle attempt allowing additional yards, then Gilbert and Pierre combined for the tackle.

Pittsburgh kicked off to start the second half to the five-yard line and allowing a big return where White and Killebrew allowed the cutback on the long return with Allen eventually making the tackle, but Detroit held on the return which Pittsburgh accepted for ten yards. McCloud’s next kickoff return was early in the third quarter from the five-yard line for a 21-yard return with Norwood being pushed back on his block by the tackler. Boswell made his second field goal from 23-yards out at 8:26 in the third quarter, Steelers down three points. The following kickoff went to the five-yard line and another good return for 28 yards where White and Pierre made the tackle. McCloud got his next punt return opportunity with 4:36 left in the third quarter, letting the punt bounce and the Lions nearly tapped it out where McCloud stayed to close to the ball nearly resulting in a turnover, after review it was ruled a touchback…just get out of the way! Harvin punted at the end of the third quarter for 46 yards to the 13-yard line where the returner misjudged and had to dive to field the catch, but once he got up and ran Layne pushed him out of bounds for only five yards!

McCloud’s following punt return kicked off the fourth quarter, with Watt close but no cigar on the block attempt and McCloud taking it off the bounce and short gain of five yards. The Lions punted off a high snap with 9:56 left in the fourth, but Killebrew was penalized for running into the kicker, questionable call to say the least barely touching him and the punter selling the contact, and frustratingly another special team miscue. McCloud’s made a good cut of his next punt return mid fourth quarter that went for a 13-yard return. With 4:34 left in the quarter, Harvin punted 39 yards to the 13-yard line where it was fair caught. Harvin came back out with 2:30 left for a 45-yard punt bouncing inside the ten but rolling in for the touchback. McCloud made my heart sink with a bobbled catch on the final punt return of the fourth quarter, but thankfully secured it and made a defender miss on a ten-yard return.

Boswell kicked off to start overtime into the end zone and tackled by Snell and Robert Spillane at the 26-yard line. The Lions punted to end their first overtime drive, downing it at the 17-yard line. Harvin punted it away with 2:36 left for 50 yards to the 27-yard line for 18 yards with Allen and Snell missed tackles and Spillane finally running him out of bounds. McCloud had a short punt return of two yards, but Gilbert was penalized for holding, setting the Steelers back ten more yards.


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