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The Lions dropped their third straight to fall to 3-4 after failing to convert any of their five red zone trips into a touchdown.

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Detroit — In the closing minute of the Lions’ 20-15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night, tensions boiled over and a player from both teams was ejected.

After the Steelers’ converted a third down to essentially seal their victory, the formality of taking a knee to run out the clock became grounds for an altercation after Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson aggressively plowed through the Steelers line at the snap.

Taking exception to his actions, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey delivered an open palm shove to Robinson’s face mask. That started a chain reaction between the two teams, even leading to a few players leaving the bench area.

As Robinson was being pulled away by teammates, he swung, connecting with two punches to the helmet of guard Ramon Foster.

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Both Pouncey and Robinson were ejected and the Steelers took two more knees to finish out the game.

“We’ll figure it out and those guys will be punished and dealt with accordingly,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said about the players who left the bench area. “Something like that shouldn’t happen.”

Defensive tackle Akeem Spence, who was lined up next to Robinson and quickly came to his teammate’s defense, said the entire game was chippy. Spence even accused the Steelers of playing dirty.

“It was just nasty in there,” Spence said. “Facemask, head shots. I got high-lowed a couple times. Guys came back around and chopped me in the legs. It was just a mean football game.”

As for the final play, Spence informed Steelers lineman David DeCastro he intended to fire off normally on the snap.

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“You just never know,” Spence said. “The ball slips and falls out and I’m coming off (lazily), I get talked bad about for not coming off the ball.”

Spence was in Tampa Bay when former coach Greg Schiano was accused on playing dirty on kneel downs. The player insisted this was completely different.

“We used to go after people’s legs, which I thought was really cheap,” Spence said.  “It was nothing like that. … I came up my hands up high. Just playing ball. Nothing too crazy, nothing out of the ordinary. It just got a little chippy.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/justin_rogers

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