- The Lions are 1-3 at home in the 2017 season and have lost three in a row. Their three game losing streak is their third such streak since the beginning of the 2016 season. They now have to play the Packers on the road next week. The Steelers head into a bye week.
- The Steelers offensive game plan appeared to run RB Le’Veon Bell over and over and over. He carried the ball 25 times and caught the ball two other times. RB Bell had the ball in his hands for 27 of the Steelers 46 offensive plays. The Lions defense did a good job of limiting big plays.
- Both the Lions and Steelers took a lot of time of the play clock and thus each team seemed to have fewer offensive plays run.
- The Lions offense was the story of the game. Despite not scoring touchdowns in five trips to the end zone (three of those trips being in goal to go situations), the Lions had the opportunity to win the game. Their offense could move the ball (482 total yards) enough to win the game despite stalling at the goal line. The offensive line, even with injuries, played for the most part and protected QB Matthew Stafford and allowed only two sacks. The Lions benefited from WR Golden Tate’s return from injury. The Lions were able to get RB Theo Reddick the ball and was effective. They did some creative things in using a fast cornerback on a jet sweep. However, one of the reasons for their ineffectiveness at the goal line was the Lions play without a tight end and generally operated out of the shotgun. There is less versatility on the field when there is no fullback, only one running back and pass catching tight ends on the field. They are unable to get hard yards from a short distance.
- The coaches call of the game and perhaps maybe of the Lions season came late in the third quarter and Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell elected in a 13-12 game to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 rather than kick a field goal and go ahead 15-13 in the game. The Lions had gone 81 yards in 10 plays. They didn’t convert and turned the ball over on downs.
- What made this decision even more questionable was that the Lions offense was clearly struggling in the red zone and especially at the goalline. This decision to “go for it” came immediately after they lost right tackle Rick Wagner (temporarily- he later retuned) and had another backup playing on the offensive line thus making it less likely that an attempt would be successful. This was a close, physical game. There was no need to go for it here. This wasn’t a shootout type of game where a team needed to take that sort of risk. After having turned the ball over on downs at the one, the Lions on 3rd down allowed QB Ben Roethlisberger to find rapidly emerging wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster over the middle of the field for a 97-yard TD catch.
- This decision deserves a second bullet point. And maybe a third. After the game, Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell stated “Against a team like that, against a good football team, unless you score touchdowns, it’s very difficult to beat them kicking field goals all day.” Nothing could be more incorrect. The Lions could have won kicking only field goals. Sure, winning by kicking field goals isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing way to win a game. It doesn’t drive up a team’s stats either, but a win is a win and points count the same if you score a touchdown or a field goal. To further illuminate the enormity of the call was that later, the Lions faced the exact same situation in the 4th quarter. This time Jim Caldwell kicks the 19-yard field goal to make it a 20-15 game.