It wasn’t a pretty game. It wasn’t a game that either team could go back to the locker room and be happy about. The Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers put on one of the most disgustingly awful offensive performance of football. Neither team could pass the ball. Both teams kept making mistake after mistake, giving the other team an opportunity to win. But neither team seemed inclined to take that opportunity.
The Detroit Lions would eventually get the first chance to legitimately win the game, as the game crawled into overtime. Ryan Santoso, in for an injured Austin Seibert, had a game-winning 48-yard field goal on the tip of his foot, but his biffed it. The rest of overtime was a comedy of errors for both teams and it ended with a tie.
The Detroit Lions won the coin toss for just the second time all season, but unlike last time—against the Eagles—they decided to defer, giving the Steelers the ball first. Mason Rudolph, in his first start of the season, didn’t have too many issues with the Lions defense. Rudolph went 4-for-5 for 30 yards on the opening drive, which was helped out by a 29-yard pass interference call on Amani Oruwariye on third-and-3. Rudolph capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open James Washington, the result of a big coverage bust from Detroit. 7-0 Steelers.
Dan Campbell said he was going to get more involved in the offense, but that certainly wasn’t felt in the first drive. Jonah Jackson got a false start penalty on the first play of the drive, as the Lions followed up with a quick three-and-out.
Despite the good field position, the Steelers couldn’t take advantage. On the third play of the drive Rudolph overthrew Dionate Johnson on third-and-4, and Pittsburgh punted right back to Detroit. But Detroit gave it right back after Jared Goff threw a pass for -3 yards on second-and-1
... and Swift failed to pick up a third-and-4 on the ground.
The Steelers were driving, but Rudolph made a critical mistake on third down, overthrowing his receiver right into the arms of Lions defender Julian Okwara.
The Lions attempted to strike quick off the turnover with a deep shot to Kalif Raymond. The Lions receiver had beaten his coverage by a few steps, but Jared Goff’s pass was underthrown, allowing the Steelers to break up the pass.
Two plays later, the Lions were punting again. Goff would end the half 2-of-3 for -1 yards. Yes, negative passing yardage.
Detroit’s defense continued to settle in nicely, forcing yet another three-and-out, and Kalif Raymond did his best to set up the offensive nicely with a big 48-yard punt return.
Rookie running back Jermar Jefferson picked up the torch, first earning the team’s first first down on a 4-yard carry and immediately followed it up with a 28-yard touchdown run right up the gut. 7-7 tie.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Jefferson landed awkwardly in the end zone and suffered a lower body injury. The injury was serious enough to require him being carted off.
Pittsburgh answered with a methodical drive behind running back Najee Harris. On the 13-play, 73-yard drive, Harris carried the ball five times for 26 yards. But the Lions held strong in the red zone, forcing a 20-yard field goal from Chris Boswell. 10-7 Steelers.
With just over four minutes left in the half, the Lions turned to the run game to push the ball down field. Pickups of 15 and 10 yards from D’Andre Swift—the latter of which came on a fourth-and-1—drove Detroit into Pittsburgh territory. Swift made another big play on a third-and-4, hurdling a Steelers defender to give Detroit a first-and-goal with under a minute left.
But Detroit would fail to punch it in on a curious decision to run a draw play on third-and-goal from the 8-yard line. Kicker Ryan Santoso would tie the game up as time expired in the first half. 10-10 tie.
The Lions came out in the second half doing what they did successfully: run the football. Swift picked 16 yards on the first play, then another 12 on a third-and-9 draw. Then Igwebuike, in for Jefferson, darted up the middle for a huge 42-yard touchdown, giving the Lions the lead, although Santoso missed the extra point. 16-10 Lions
The Steelers would come right back, though. A 26-yard scramble from Rudolph kicked off the drive, and then Jalen Reeves-Maybin gave the Steelers 15 free yards with a late hit. The Steelers would get into a goal-to-go situation, but Rudolph threw three straight incompletions and Pittsburgh settled for another field goal. 16-13 Lions.
Worth noting on that defensive drive safety Tracy Walker suffered an injury after a tough collision with Rudolph. He went to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion.
The Lions were able to push the ball to midfield thanks to a nice third-down pickup from Amon-Ra St. Brown, but the Lions couldn’t pick up a third-and-5 with a similar bubble screen to Raymond and punted back to the Steelers.
The defense got the ball back in the offense’s hands, however, as Amani Oruwariye made a nice pass breakup on third down. But that was short lived as a Goff sack pushed the Lions into a third-and-unmanageable. That being said, Steelers star T.J. Watt suffered a leg injury on the sack.
Working with good field position, the Steelers looked to take the lead. Pittsburgh would only pick up one first down, but it was enough to get Boswell in field goal position, and his 51-yard kick was dead center. 16-16 tie.
Detroit looked to be giving the ball right back with a three-and-out, but Miles Killebrew brushed Jack Fox just enough to call running into the kicker. That gave the Lions a fourth-and-inches, which they converted with a run to Jason Cabinda. But that only gave the Lions three more plays on offense, yet another third-and-long draw came up far too short.
The Steelers marched to midfield, but Rudolph missed Johnson on a third-and-3 that would’ve resulted in a big pickup. Instead, Pittsburgh punted to Detroit with 4:27 remaining.
Predictably, the Lions run game continued to be swallowed up by Pittsburgh, and the Lions’ three-and-out ended with a sack of Jared Goff on third and long. The Steelers answered with a three-and-out of their own, giving Detroit’s offense yet another chance with 2:22 left.
Detroit would eat up clock and move to midfield, but three straight incomplete passes stalled the drive, and the Lions punted to Pittsburgh with just 19 seconds left. The Steelers kneeled for overtime.
The Lions won the toss and got the ball first. On the very first play of overtime, Goff found St. Brown over the middle, who ran for a huge 30-yard pickup. But after two ineffective runs, Goff took a sack on third down and punted the ball back to the Steelers.
The Steelers connected on a bomb to Johnson, but after getting beat on the play, Mark Gilbert caught up to the receiver and punched the ball loose and the Lions recovered.
Goff nearly gave the ball right back with an interception, but a defensive holding call bailed Detroit out. The Steelers blew up a screen play next, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Lions 15 more yards, pushing them to the edge of field goal position. Detroit would push themselves into position for a 48-yard field goal, but Santoso came up short and right.
The Steelers didn’t capitalize on the opportunity with a second down snap going over Rudolph’s head, and they punted back to Detroit, who got a good return from Raymond to set them up at midfield. But Goff took a sack on first down, and the Lions couldn’t recover.
The Steelers were knocking on the door for a last-second field goal attempt, but Pat Freiermuth fumbled with eight seconds left. Detroit couldn’t muster anything in that little time and the game ended in a tie.