Steelers put up embarrassing performance in 16-16 tie vs Lions
By Tommy Jaggi
The Steelers couldn’t muster up enough to beat the 0-8 Detroit Lions at home. Here’s why Pittsburgh’s performance was so embarrassing.
I’m at an utter loss for words. What did we just watch? After winning four straight games, besting the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field seemed like a lock for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was not.
To open the game, everything was going according to the script. Mason Rudolph was able to lead the Steelers to a touchdown on the game’s opening drive — something Ben Roethlisberger has struggled to do much of over the past two seasons.
On the defensive side of the ball, Pittsburgh started with a pair of three and outs as Alex Highsmith came up with two consecutive third-down stops. However, it was all downhill from there. Pittsburgh stalled on offense and played a sloppy game that included a handful of bad penalties and multiple lost fumbles. Eventually, the final result was a 16-16 tie against the Lions — giving the Steelers a record of 5-3-1 on the season.
What went wrong for the Steelers?
Despite the promising start to this contest, the Steelers fell flat. Rudolph’s offense scored just 9 total points in the remaining three-plus quarters and he seemed far too content checking the ball down underneath. Rudolph threw the ball 50 times for just 242 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception at the end of the day. His 4.8 yards per attempt was pitiful in this lackluster performance.
Keith Butler’s pass defense was terrific in this contest. They allowed just 92 passing yards to Jared Goff and the Lions offense, and they were able to sack Goff 4 times on just 25 pass attempts.
Sadly, this defense was steamrolled on the ground. In the first half, Detroit ran for 114 yards and 7.6 yards per carry. Though the Steelers eventually tightened things up down the stretch, they still surrendered 229 rushing yards on 5.9 yards per attempt with 2 touchdowns in this contest.
Who was to blame for the Steelers loss?
This was an all-around sloppy contest by Pittsburgh. In fact, I would argue that this was one of the worst performances I have ever seen them play. There weren’t a lot of positives to note — specifically on the offensive side of the football.
Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth had very costly fourth-quarter fumbles that really cost them a victory. However, Mason Rudolph deserves a bulk of the blame for this game resulting in a tie. Rudolph very much looked like a backup quarterback as he struggled to connect with receivers down the field and really lacked accuracy and touch.
When he did target James Washington and Diontae Johnson down the field, almost everything was either underthrown or off-target entirely. His 70.6 passer rating didn’t quite paint the whole picture of how detrimental he was to his team in this game.
Pittsburgh was also hurt by the in-game losses of T.J. Watt, Kevin Dotson, Joe Haden, and Trai Turner. We hope the injuries to these players aren’t serious.
The Steelers aren’t out of the playoff picture with a tie, but a win would have been far better and would have given them the lead in the AFC North. Obviously, we hope to see much better results when they return to the field on the road against the Chargers next week — hopefully with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.