In their preseason finale, the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Detroit Lions at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh had an impressive showing defensively and walked away with a 19-9 win.
After Pittsburgh won the toss and deferred, the Lions opened the game with possession. Detroit opened their drive with a 15-yard completion by QB Tim Boyle to TE T.J. Hockenson. On third-and-three, T.J. Watt made a huge run stop, wrapping up RB Jermar Jefferson in the backfield for a loss of five yards. WR Gunner Olszewski returned P Jack Fox’s punt 12 yards to the Pittsburgh 21. Pittsburgh’s drive went backward though, as QB Mitch Trubisky got sacked on both second and third down to set up a punt.
Detroit went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and Pittsburgh got the ball back at their own 15 after a fair catch by WR Steven Sims Jr. On third-and-two after a neutral zone infraction against DE Aidan Hutchinson, Trubisky made a nice throw downfield to WR Diontae Johnson down the left sideline for a gain of 38 yards.
After an 11-yard run by RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh was set up on the Detroit 28. Following a holding penalty against OT Dan Moore Jr., Olszewski took a jet sweep 12 yards to set up 2nd and 8. Another hold against Moore on the next play set Pittsburgh back another ten yards, though. On 3rd and 18, Pittsburgh went short and got no gain on a pass to Harris, but K Chris Boswell knocked through a 45-yard field goal to put Pittsburgh up 3-0 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
A holding penalty against OT Taylor Decker sent Detroit into a 2nd and 18, and on 3rd and 17, Detroit got a first down on a draw run by Jefferson that went for 27 yards. After another first down, Boyle was sacked by S Minkah Fitzpatrick for a five-yard loss to bring it to 2nd and 15. On 3rd and 15, Sutton picked off a Boyle pass that looked like it was thrown directly to him and he took it back 45 yards to the Detroit 19.
After a loss of two on a first down run by Harris and a short completion to Sims Jr., Trubisky threw to WR George Pickens on 3rd and 7 but it was knocked away by CB Jeff Okudah. Boswell came out for a 34-yard attempt and was good, putting the Steelers up 6-0 with 12:32 left in the first half.
Detroit’s next drive, the first with QB David Blough, ended with a failed attempt on 4th and 1 after a nice stop by LBs Devin Bush and Myles Jack. Pittsburgh took over possession back on Detroit’s 25. Pittsburgh was unable to pick up a first down though, and the team settled for their third field goal of the day. Boswell hit from 38 yards, and Pittsburgh went up 9-0 with 8:45 left in the first half.
Detroit was penalized on the kickoff return, so their drive started on their own 12-yard line. On third-and-12, Blough hit WR Amon-Ra St. Brown for an 18-yard gain and a first down. On the next play, Blough fumbled the snap but was able to recover and found Josh Reynolds downfield for a 24-yard gain. OLB Delontae Scott sacked Blough on the next play, and an incompletion brought up 3rd and 17, where Blough was nearly picked off by S Terrell Edmunds. Detroit was forced to punt with 5:26 left in the first half. Pittsburgh went nowhere on their drive and punted. P Pressley Harvin III’s 50-yard punt went out of bounds at the Detroit 19.
The Lions picked up a first down on the first play of the drive, but that would be it as a two-yard run and back-to-back incompletions brought up 4th and 8 and Jack Fox punted. Sims lost four yards on the punt return, so Pittsburgh would have a two-minute drill opportunity starting at their eight-yard line.
A defensive pass interference brought Pittsburgh to their own 36-yard line, but a 2nd and 2 holding penalty against OT Chukwuma Okorafor sent the Steelers to a 2nd and 12. After a reception by TE Connor Heyward, Pickens gained 22 yards to the Detroit 38 on a throw from Trubisky. On the next play, Trubisky hit TE Pat Freiermuth up the seam for a 32-yard gain to the Detroit 6. Sims Jr. capped the drive off with a six-yard touchdown reception to complete a nine-play, 92-yard drive in 1:20 to put the Steelers up 16-0 after Boswell’s extra point. Pittsburgh went into the half holding that 16-0 lead. Trubisky finished the first half 15-19 for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Pittsburgh had the ball to open the second half, and QB Kenny Pickett replaced Trubisky. The Steelers picked up just one first down before they punted. On 2nd and 1, Justin Jackson made a 32-yard catch-and-run off a screen pass, and Detroit got another first down on a pass interference penalty against CB James Pierre. On 3rd and 2 from Pittsburgh’s 18, Tim Boyle’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage by rookie DL DeMarvin Leal. Detroit settled for a field goal, and Austin Seibert was good from 36 yards out. The Lions got on the board but trailed Pittsburgh 16-3 with 10:01 to play in 3rd.
Pickett’s second drive went better than his first, as he made some nice throws to WR Miles Boykin, including one for 29 yards, as Pittsburgh marched into the red zone.
The Steelers couldn’t capitalize with points, as Pickett’s pass to Olszewski was incomplete on third down. Boswell’s field goal was blocked, and Detroit got possession back trailing 16-3 with 5:10 left in the third quarter. Jackson ran for a first down on the opening play of the drive, but facing 3rd and 3 later in the drive, Boyle was incomplete to Reynolds and Detroit punted.
On second down, Pickett hooked up with WR Tyler Vaughns for a 17-yard game. On 3rd and 3, Pickett hit WR Cody White to pick up a first down, and on the final play of the third quarter Vaughns gained seven yards on another reception. The Steelers would only gain six more yards the rest of the drive, but Boswell’s 54-yard field goal was good and put Pittsburgh up 19-3 with 12:59 left to play.
Craig Reynolds opened up the Lions’ drive with a 16-yard run before being stopped by S Elijah Riley. On third-and-three after an 18-yard completion to WR Maurice Alexander, Blough found WR Tom Kennedy for a first down. Two plays later, Reynolds ran for another 17 yards and a first down. Later, on 3rd and 3, Reynolds caught a first down pass from Blough to make it 1st and Goal. On 3rd and Goal, Pittsburgh should’ve had an interception, but it bounced out of the hands of LB Mark Robinson. Detroit went for it on fourth down, but Blough’s pass was incomplete and Pittsburgh got the ball back, leading 19-3 with 7:06 left in the game.
Mason Rudolph replaced Pickett at quarterback for the final minutes of the game, as Pickett finished 10-14 for 90 yards. Pittsburgh would only pick up one first down during the drive, and with 5:31 left they punted away.
WR Kalil Pimpleton gained 22 yards on a 2nd and 8 reception, and a few plays later on 4th and 10 as Blough was going down, he flipped the ball to RB Godwin Igwebuike who managed to pick up 15 yards and a first down. On 4th and 7 later in the drive, Detroit got another first down when Blough stayed in the pocket facing pressure and connected with WR Trinity Benson for a first down. A roughing the passer call against DL Carlos Davis tacked on more yards for Detroit, who suddenly had a first down at the Pittsburgh 12. On another fourth-down try, Elijah Riley tipped the pass away but a defensive facemask was called so Detroit got a new set of downs.
With 30 seconds left, the Lions scored their first touchdown of the game when Blough flipped it to Quintez Cephus in the end zone, but Detroit couldn’t convert the two-point conversion. Pittsburgh led 19-9 with 30 seconds left in the game. The Lions tried an onside kick and were able to recover, so they would have another shot to make the game a little bit closer. Detroit wouldn’t be able to get anything on the scoreboard though, and the game ended with a 19-9 Steelers win.
Pittsburgh’s preseason ends with them finishing 3-0, the first time since 1997 that the Steelers finished undefeated in the preseason. All focus now turns to the Cincinnati Bengals, who the Steelers will face on the road in Week 1.