JuJu Leads the Steelers past the Lions

Pittsburgh’s first primetime game of the year ended in a 20-15 victory over the Detroit Lions. JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steelers redzone defense were the stars of the night. JuJu finished the night with 7 receptions, 193 yards, and one spectacular 97-yard touchdown catch and run. The Steelers defense responded to coach Mike Tomlin’s challenge to improve the redzone defense by holding the Lions offense to 0 touchdowns in 5 redzone trips and two of those times were goal line stops.

Offense

Other than Smith-Schuster’s breakout performance, the Steelers offense had a relatively average night. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t look sharp, missing both Eli Rogers and Darrius Heyward-Bey in end zone for easy touchdowns, and overthrowing Antonio Brown which led to Glover Quin’s interception. However, the Steelers were efficient on 3rd down converting 50% of the time and a lot of that can be contributed to Big Ben and JuJu. Le’Veon Bell didn’t rack up over 100 scrimmage yards for the 1st time in three weeks. His fumble near the end of the 1st half changed the momentum of the game. Pittsburgh was about to enter the redzone with a minute left in the half and take a 2 possession lead, instead Bell fumbled and Detroit marched down the field and take a 2 point lead with Matt Prater’s 34 yard field goal. Although the running game had little room all night, the offensive line was fantastic in pass coverage, giving up 0 sacks all night.

Defense

On a night where the defense was overmatched by Matt Stafford and the Lions offense, Vince Williams, Sean Davis, and Javon Hargrave made just enough plays in the redzone to hold Detroit to 5 field goals. The Steelers run defense, led linebackers Ryan Shazier and Williams, continued to impress holding Detroit to 71 rushing yards. The secondary, who has been the heartbeat of the defense, was torched for 411 passing yards. Stafford again and again exposed a hole in the Steelers cover 2 defense, which was 20-25 yards past the line of scrimmage and outside the numbers. This is a cause for concern for upcoming weeks as other teams will try that area of the field. Either the safeties will have to read and react faster or the corners will have to trail the route just a tad bit longer to be able to cover the hole. Chris Boswell put together a perfect game netting 2 field goals and 2 extra points. Jordan Berry, who has one the worst punting averages in the league, had another mediocre game with a net average 41.8 yards.

The Steelers head into the bye week looking pretty good atop the AFC with few injuries. Only 3 of the last 8 games will be played outside of Pittsburgh to finish up the season. If the Steelers continue to play how they have been the past few weeks, look for them to be the number 1 seed in the AFC with home field advantage and a bye.  

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