Steelers defense does their part in first half vs Lions in preseason finale
The Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of things to work on entering the 2022 season, but their defense looked encouraging in the preseason finale.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was trying to make a statement in the Pittsburgh Steelers preseason finale against the Detroit Lions. While most other teams rest the majority of their starters in the final preseason game, Tomlin elected to play his for the entire first half.
The results certainly weren’t as good as what we would have hoped for. Though the Steelers held a 16-0 when the clock struck zero in the first half — thanks to a Mitch Trubisky touchdown drive with fourteen seconds remaining in the half — this game looked much closer.
The offensive line really struggled in this contest, as Dan Moore and Kevin Dotson chipped in three penalties early and the team struggled to muster up first downs. What’s a little discouraging is that this came against many of Detroit’s backups.
While the offense finally gained some steam heading into the half, the defense looked dominant from the gate. In the first few possessions, T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward were busy making stops at the line of scrimmage and batting passes.
Pittsburgh’s starting defense allowed just 4.4 yards per pass attempt while chipping in an interception from Cameron Sutton early. The Lions quarterbacks Tim Boyle and David Blough combined for a 30.3 passer rating in the first half, via ESPN stats.
Zero first-half points allowed is exactly what you would hope for from this defense — especially when they were going against backup quarterbacks — but now the Steelers have another potential problem on their hands.
Two important Steelers leave the game early
Very early in the contest, Diontae Johnson got up slowly after a 38-yard reception on his lone target. He would be ruled out with a shoulder injury. A few series later, T.J. Watt got up slowly after being on the receiving end of a cut-block from Lions tight end, T.J. Hockenson. A few plays later, Watt appeared to have a slight limp. He exited the game with what was labeled as a left knee injury.
The Steelers certainly could not afford to leave this contest with a pair of injuries to two of their best players. While neither injury appears to be serious at this point, we are really hoping that Johnson and Watt can get up to full speed very quickly.
Pittsburgh is set to take on the Cincinnati Bengals for their season-opener two weeks from now, and they will need all hands on deck for this heated divisional matchup. We will be monitoring the health of these players closely. Let’s hope Tomlin getting his team ready to play was worth the risk to the health of some of the top players on the Steelers.