Who were Sunday’s winners/losers from the Steelers victory over the Lions?
The Steelers pulled out a nail-biter against the Lions on the road this weekend. It certainly wasn’t their best performance, but a win is a win and the Steelers advance to 6-2 heading into the bye week.
Here are the Steelers winners and losers from Sunday night’s win over Detroit:
Smith-Schuster was undoubtedly the star of the night – snatching 7 grabs for 193 yards and a touchdown, including a 97-yard catch late in the game. Other than a wide-open drop he had on third down, JuJu played a perfect game and almost made you forget Martavis Bryant was watching from the sideline. If he keeps this pace, he’ll be on his way to breaking many records, as JuJu already caught his 4th touchdown before his 21st birthday.
Hargrave didn’t stand out on the stat sheet but was perhaps the Steelers best defensive player in this contest. With Stephon Tuitt out of the lineup once again, Hargrave stepped up in a big way. Despite recording just two tackles and a QB hit, Hargrave was solid against the run and disruptive against the pass, as he was credited with 3 quarterback pressures in the game.
Sean Davis continues to show up big in crucial moments. For the second time in the last three weeks, Davis had a critical pass breakup in the endzone late in the game. Though the Steelers pass defense was gashed by giving up 423 passing yards, Davis had a solid game with a number of big plays. He recorded 6 tackles, 2 pass defenses and a tackle for a loss.
Shazier wasn’t perfect in this game, but he is the most important player on the Steelers defense. Shazier had a couple nice stops to save would-be touchdowns in their red zone defense and topped it off with a dropped pick on fourth and goal for the Lions that essentially ended the game.
Heyward is probably the most consistent player on either side of the ball for the Steelers. He pumped out another solid performance against the Lions – including 2 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, and a sack. He can always be counted on to play well against the run and add some pressure on the quarterback.
Mike Hilton has to be the most impressive player on this defensive unit for the Steelers this year. He turned another solid outing against Detroit. Hilton was one of the few bright spots in the secondary this week and easily performed better than any other cornerback in this game not named Darius Slay.
Red Zone Defense
As bad as the Steelers defense was between the 20’s this game, their red zone defense more than made up for it. Though the Steelers allowed over 400 yards through the air, their toughness and discipline in the red zone cost them just 15 points in this contest, and it was the reason this game didn’t get out of hand in favor of Detroit.
I know fans aren’t going to like seeing his name on this list once again, but what can I say? Ben was off on routine throws all night – including missing both Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jesse James wide open in big moments. His best pass went to Smith-Schuster, who took a 15-yard post for a 97-yard touchdown (which inflated Big Ben’s stats on the night).
Roethlisberger has improved the last couple weeks, and has opened the game with scoring drives two weeks in a row now. However, Ben completed just 54 percent of his passes for 1 TD and 1 INT, and posted a QB rating of 87.7 – even with the 97 yard touchdown pass.
Bell looks great at times with his unique, patient run style. However, LB was surprisingly ineffective this game. The Lions defense held him to just 76 yards on 25 carries (3.0 YPC), and saw just 5 yards on three targets in the passing game.
Roethlisberger has improved the last couple weeks and has opened the game with scoring drives two weeks in a row now. However, Ben completed just 54 percent of his passes for 1 TD and 1 INT and posted a QB rating of 87.7 – even with the 97-yard touchdown pass.
I can promise you that you won’t see “the big three” together on this list often but here they are – and justifiably so. Though Brown deserves to be on this list least of the Steelers “big three,” his performance was very mediocre against the Lions in terms of what we are used to seeing from one of the league’s best receivers. Darius Slay was able to hold Brown to 5 catches on 10 targets for 70 yards.
Meanwhile, Eli Rogers had a huge touchdown dropped on his lone opportunity and Hunter was completely ineffective. These three receivers combined for just 6 catches on 14 targets for a mere 77 yards.
It’s hard to say that Bud Dupree has not been somewhat of a disappointment this season. After going invisible vs the Chiefs and Bengals, Dupree did very little against 2nd and 3rd string offensive tackles in Detroit. Though his three tackles against the Lions are more than he had in the previous two weeks combined, he was ineffective as a pass rusher.
T.J. Watt also had some difficulty getting after Stafford in this one, though he gets more of a pass just 8 games into his NFL career.
It wasn’t a very good game for half of Steelers secondary in this one. Both Artie Burns and Joe Haden were caught peeking in the backfield on more than one occasion, and Stafford made them pay. Mike Mitchell was a bit slow covering the sidelines deep down the field in cover 2, which resulted in the perfect storm for the Lions passing attack.
Though they were much more disciplined in the red zone, I’ll assume this is a game these three would like to forget about in terms of their individual performances.