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The history of Detroit Lions vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Taking a look back at the history of this matchup.


Welcome back, Detroit Lions fans. Did you enjoy the bye week? It felt like a little mini vacation where nothing could hurt you. It was beautiful, but now we’re back at it.

This week the Lions play the Pittsburgh Steelers and there is a very interesting history here. We’ve got a lot to go over, so let’s jump right into it.

Where it all started

The Lions and Steelers have played each other 32 times in the last 87 years. The first time they played each other in November of 1934, the Steelers weren’t even the Steelers yet. They were the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yes, I said the Pirates.

In the early days of the NFL, baseball was the most popular sport in the country and the belief was that if you named you football team after the local baseball team, fans of the baseball team would become fans of the football team too. The Pirates weren’t the only team that took on the baseball team’s name that year. The Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers also played that season.

The Lions would beat the Pirates 40-7 at home. Hopefully they didn’t get used to those wins.

Random stats

Here’s wher it gets wild. The Lions are 14-17-1 all time against the Steelers. Only two of the Lions wins over the Steelers came in the Super Bowl era. A 45-3 win in 1983 and a 19-16 overtime win in 1998. Both of those wins came at home for the Lions.

Here’s where it gets even crazier. The Lions have never won a game in Pittsburgh during the Super Bowl era. Their last win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh was a 31-28 win on November 13, 1955.

What the world was like the last time

Normally we’d talk about what the world was like the first time, but the random stats have us wanting to know what the world was like the last time the Lions went to Pittsburgh and won.

First off, Whoopi Goldberg was born this day. So the Lions got their last win in Pittsburgh and the world got Sister Act. Not bad at all. A week later Elvis Presley got signed to RCA records and Bill Nye The Science Guy was born. A busy month.

The number one song in America was Autumn Leaves by Roger Williams. It’s meh, unless you like to hear piano instrumentals coming through your subwoofers. The number one movie in the country was “Guys and Dolls” starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.

Worst memory

What was the worst memory? This one is hard. It’s tie between Sam Martin’s fake field goal fumble in 2013 and the Lions putting up 482 total yards and no touchdowns in 2018. At least the Sam Martin fumble was funny. Matt Prater kicking five field goals was not. I still can’t beleive the Lions got to the red zone as many times as they did that night and still coudn’t get into the end zone.

Best memory

It’s the Sam Martin fumble. Ok, it’s not that. But with so little to go on, it has to be the first half of that 2013 game. The Lions were absolutley on fire. The Lions scored 27 points in the first half of this game. Calvin Johnson went off for 179 yards and two touchdowns. It was a good time. Here’s the highlight package. Cut it off after the Sam Martin fumble.

Game dive

Let’s go all the way back to 1998. The last time the Lions beat the Steelers. Yes, it’s the coin toss game. Who could forget this moment? In overtime the offical asked Jerome Bettis to call the toss in the air. Bettis clearly says tails. The offical heard heads. Of course the coin landed on tails, and the Lions got the ball first in overtime and went donw the field for a game-winning Jason Hanson field goal.

This wasn’t the only mess of this game. The Lions got lucky on some plays that would totally go the other way now. The interception from Lions linebacker Rob Fredrickson immediately comes to mind. Fredrickson and Steelers tight end Mark Bruener appeared to have caught the ball at the same exact time. They both fell to the gorund and Fredrickson lost control fo the ball and Bruener came up with it. The officials ruled that the Fredrickson had intercepted the ball. Today the officials would rule in favor of the offense on such a play.

Barry Sanders was oddly nonexistent in this game. This would happen from time to time. Sanders ran for 33 yards on 20 carries. That’s 1.65 yards per carry. Not exactly the type of thing you’d remember from the Hall of Famer.

Herman Moore, on the other hand, had a very good game. He caught eight passes for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Check out the highlight package here.

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