I seriously have no idea what is even going on anymore. One day the Steelers can't complete a pass past the line of scrimmage to save their lives and can't play defense and the next they are beating the current leader of the NFC North and shutting out the best receier in the game in the second half of a game. I mean even in this game it was like that. The Steelers came out and scored 14 points in the first quarter and then gave up 27 in the second quarter. The key? The Steelers defense stepped up in the second half and the Steelers offense opened it up and the Steelers are now 4-6.
This is going to be a little bland. I was able to watch the first quarter but I spent the rest of the game working and driving home so I was only able to get the play by play on my phone so there is really so much I can go over. I will tell you this, the Steelers played probably one of their better games of the season. This was a big time opponent and while the Lions aren't the best team in the league they have a dynamic quarterback-receiver combination and while they had some big plays in the first half they had nothing in the second half.
Here are the notes:
-Ben Roethlisberger was outstanding. There are no two ways about it. He went 29-45 for 367 yards and four touchdowns. He didn't turn the football over and brought the team back in the second half after just a brutal second quarter. Since Todd Haley took over the play calling duties Roethlisberger hasn't been getting the big plays but today he had his YPA over 8.0 which has been fewer and farther between the last couple years and he was able to get the ball into the hands of his playmaker. He was stepping up in the pock and while people have been talking about him asking for a trade he basically told everyone during the week to shove it and then came out today and told everyone to shove it with his play. Big time performance by #7.
-Antonio Brown. This guy. I have talked a ton about how he isn't a number one receiver. Before the season I thought it was going to be hard for the Steelers to really get into the passing game because I didn't think Brown had what it took to lead the receiving core. Not that Mike Wallace was a great number one but I thought the duo of Wallace and Brown played off each other and made each of them much better. Brown is proving me wrong in a big way. It was all Brown in the first quarter as he caught touchdown passes of 34 and 47 yards and while Roethlisberger gets all those yards it was all Brown with the YAC. Making defenders miss and breaking tackles got him into pay dirt and it was fun to watch. When he gets the ball into his hands he is as dangerous as anyone and he proved that today. All told he caught seven passes for 147 yards and the two scores and was targeted 13 times. Yes sir.
-Give it up for the offensive line. Despite not having Ramon Foster and having guys like Guy Whimper in the starting lineup almost the entire season the Steelers offensive line held the Lions to one sack. One. The Lions don't have a strop pass rush, at all, but there have been worse pass rushes that have resulted in the Steelers giving up an embarrassing number of sacks. The Steelers didn't run the football well but I think going in you knew they were going to have to throw the football to win and to do that Ben had to be clean and he was. Nice job by the offensive line even though it will probably get overlooked.
-The defense. Man.
The first half Lions drive summary:
The second half:
The Steelers got torched in the second quarter and couldn't do anything. Calvin Johnson had six catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Matt Stafford had three completions in the second half. Zero of those completions went to Johnson in the second half. Let that sink in. Johnson didn't touch the ball in the second half. That is how you win a half of football and how you come back after an awful second quarter. The defense forced three turnovers including a late interception by Will Allen that turned into the game clinching touchdown to Jerricho Cotchery. You win the turnover battle and you have a great chance to win the football game. The Steelers defense made sure they had a great chance to win the football game.
-Now, I just talked about the Steelers in the second half and gushed about them but that doesn't take away from the fact that they played a shitty first half. That still happened no matter how much we want to look at that second half drive chart. They did give up almost 200 yards to a receiver in one half. The problems are still there and I still don't think this is a great defense but they made it work. Stafford missed a ton of receivers early and that played into this game as much as the defense did but when push came to shove they made it happen.
-The coaching staff has been getting torn to shreds this season. I think some of that is a vast overreaction and some of that is deserved, but whatever they did at halftime won the football game. Dick LeBeau and Haley came out in the second half and won the game. Sure, Roethlisberger ran a lot of no huddle and called his own plays but Haley still had a hand in this to some extent no matter what the haters want to say. The coaches take a lot of criticism but today they deserve the A on their report card.
-Big ups to Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds. The Steelers were without LaMarr Woodley and Brent Keisel and those two got the job done. Those are not two easy guys to replace and while Worilds has been largely disappointing and Jones has been up and down they needed to be good today and for the most part they were.
-I didn't get to see this but evidently the Lions tried a fake field goal and it failed about as miserably as it could. Here is the gif from Behind the Steel Curtain. Also click on the link to get their breakdown of the fake.
-Overall a great win. At 4-6 I have no idea how this is but the Steelers are around the final playoff spot. The Jets hold the final spot right now and they are 5-5. The Steelers beat the Jets. Man. I don't think it's really all that possible but you better believe that a lot of people are going to be talking about it. Who cares, it's fun to think about.