On third-and-6 with 1:45 remaining from their own 12, the Steelers tried to throw for a first down. Unfortunately for the Lions, Darius Slay was called for pass interference, gift-wrapping a first down for Pittsburgh. The Lions used their final two timeouts on the next two plays, but nice chunks by Le'Veon Bell set the Steelers up with a short third-and-1, which they ultimately got to seal the 20-15 victory.
The turning point came late in the third quarter when the Lions decided not to kick the field goal that would have put them on top, instead opting for an all-or-nothing approach on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Three plays later, Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 97-yard touchdown that stretched Pittsburgh lead to 20-12.
Matt Stafford was 27-for-45 for 423 yards. But it's the lack of touchdowns that ultimately cost the Lions the game.
According to NBC, the Lions 483 total yards of offense were the third most in NFL history without scoring a touchdown.
Same old song and dance as Lions come up short
Stop me if you've heard this before: The Lions drove the ball down the field with ease, getting within six yards of taking the lead with a touchdown. On fourth down, however, Matt Stafford fired incomplete.
The game is not over, as with 1:54 on the clock, the Lions still have three timeouts.
The drive: Marvin Jones made a play with the ball in his hands to turn a minimal gain into a seven-yard gain on second down. On third-and-3, Stafford hit Eric Ebron for a 14-yard gain out to the 36. The Lions caught the Steelers with an extra man on the field on the next play, getting five free yards out to the 41. On second-and-1, Ebron made another big play, reeling in a pass across the middle and running for more than 30 yards after the catch all the way down to the Steelers 11 with 2:55 on the clock. On first down, Stafford threw a ball that bounce off of Jones' helmet. Stafford found Golden Tate for five yards down to the 6. On third down, Stafford made the puzzling decision to check down to a run play in which Theo Riddick lost two yards.
Lions defense gets the ball back to Stafford
JuJu Smith-Schuster didn't drop the ball on third down this time around, instead hauling in a Ben Roethlisberger pass for a first down out to the 43. The Lions defense responded, aided by a false start penalty, to force a third-and-15. A screen pass to Bell went nowhere, meaning the Steelers had to punt the ball away.
With 4:55 left to play, the Lions will take over at their own 15.
Tate fumbles away big play
The Lions looked to have the ball deep in Pittsburgh territory when Golden Tate came down with the ball for a big gain. But as the veteran receiver turned upfield, he dropped the ball and fumbled possession back to the Steelers.
With 11:49 remaining, it's still 20-15 in favor of Pittsburgh.
Stafford hit Marvin Jones for a gain of nine of the first play of the drive, and Ameer Abdullah was able to pick up a few yards and a first down at the Lions 41. Abdullah was dropped for a loss on a swing pass on first down before the pass to Tate.
Lions stuffed, settle for fifth Prater field goal
The Lions had a first down at the Steelers 4, but they were unable to get the ball in the end zone...again.
Matt Prater hit a chip shot 19-yard field goal as Jim Caldwell decided to pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1 this time around, cutting the Steelers lead to 20-15 with 13:41 to play in the fourth quarter.
The drive (from the 25): Golden Tate hauled in a seven-yard pass, and Theo Riddick was able to keep the Lions going forward with an 11-yard run on second down. Riddick got the ball again on first down and was able to get a tough seven yards. Riddick then showed off his versatility with a 23-yard catch-and-run down to the Pittsburgh 27. It was Riddick again on first down picking up six yards as the quarter came to a close. On second-and-4, Tate was able to take a crossing route down inside the 5.
So...about that decision to go for it
I think it's safe to say the Lions should have taken the field goal instead of going for it from the 1 and coming up short.
I say that with the knowledge that on third down from the 3, Ben Roethlisberger hit Juju Smith-Schuster for a 97-yard touchdown pass that puts the Steelers up 20-12 with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter.
Jim Caldwell, you've got some explaining to do.
Consider the Lions could have gone from trailing to leading, this string of events is unacceptable.
Lions come up short on fourth-and-goal
Instead of taking the lead on a chip shot field goal, the Lions decided to roll the dice and fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Matt Stafford tried to run the ball up the middle after dropping back, but he was taken down at the 2 and the Lions have turned the ball over on downs back to the Steelers after what was a great drive.
At 4:25 in the third quarter, the Lions trail 13-12.
The drive: Stafford hit Marvin Jones in stride for 18 yards on the first play of the drive, and a helmet-to-helmet call on Pittsburgh gave the Lions a first down at midfield. After back-to-back runs went nowhere, Stafford fled the pocket for an 11-yard gain on third-and-10. Darren Fells took a screen pass 12 yards down to the 27, and on the very next play, Stafford dropped a dime to TJ Jones down to the 4. Dwayne Washington took the ball down to the 1 on first down, and Stafford fired incomplete on second down. On third down, Washington was stuffed at the goal line.
Steelers add a field goal of their own
A penalty extended Pittsburgh's first drive of the second half, but the Lions defense made some plays and the Steelers were forced to settle for a 38-yard Chris Boswell field goal that bounce off the goal post but careened in.
At the 9:21 mark of the third quarter, the Steelers have taken a 13-12 lead.
Juju Smith-Schuster was able to produce a first down catch-and-run of 18 yards down to the Lions 18. On first down, Ben Roethlisberger missed a wide open Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone, and the Steelers were left with a third-and-8 after a two-yard run by Le'Veon Bell on second down before Quandre Diggs was called for a personal foul on a shot to the head of Jesse James. On first down from the 11, Bell picked up a tough two yards. On second down, Antonio Brown appeared to have a touchdown, but he was called for offensive pass interference. Second-and-18 produced a throw that bounce harmlessly in front of Brown, and Diggs made a big hit across the middle on the star receiver on third down to force the field goal attempt.
Lions go three-and-out to start second half
The Lions got the ball to start the second half, but they weren't able to do anything with it.
Ameer Abdullah was stopped for a one-yard loss on first down, but he was able to go forward on second down to set the Lions up with a third-and-5. Matt Stafford had the ball tipped at the line on third down, forcing the Lions to punt. A muffed Sam Martin kick will give the Steelers good field position at the Lions 48.
Lions add another Prater field goal before halftime
The Lions marched down the field as Matt Stafford dropped dime after dime to his receivers.
But the results were all too familiar, as the Lions settled for a Matt Prater field goal with 13 seconds remaining that gives the Lions a 12-10 lead.
The drive: Stafford hit Marvin Jones for 18 yards, and the Lions used their first timeout with 50 seconds on the clock. On the next play, TJ Jones ran free down the sideline and Stafford found him for a 34-yard gain to get the ball inside the Steelers 30. After an incompletion, Stafford found Golden Tate for 11 yards before taking their second timeout with 31 seconds remaining in the half. Darren Fells dropped what looked to be a touchdown on the next play. A second down attempt was thrown behind Fells, while a third down throw was just out of the reach of Jones.
Stafford is 13-for-25 for 206 yards in the first half. While the percentage isn't something to get excited about, some of the throws he's made have been nothing short of spectacular.
Marvin Jones has three receptions for 94 yards.
Antonio Brown has four receptions for 71 yards, and Le'Veon Bell has rushed for 41 yards on 13 carries while fumbling once.
Ben Roethlisberger is 11-for-18 for 183 yards and an interception.
Ball bounces the Lions way late in first half
Antonio Brown picked up 13 yards on third-and-12 after the two-minute warning, pretty much putting to bed the thought of the Lions getting the ball back in the first half.
Not so fast.
Pittsburgh was able to work a drive down to the Lions 23 before Le'Veon Bell fumbled and the Lions recovered to get the ball back with 1:08 on the clock.
The Lions have all three of their timeouts.
Lions settle for third Prater field goal
The Lions are moving the ball. That's the good news.
The bad news is they aren't finishing off these possessions, settling for a 51-yard Matt Prater field goal that cuts the Pittsburgh lead to 10-9.
Matt Stafford hit TJ Jones for a 25-yard gain on the first play of the drive. Jamal Agnew got a quick pass as he came across the line in front of Stafford, going for 12 yards down to the Pittsburgh 38. Ameer Abdullah picked up five yards on first down, but Stafford felt the pressure on second down and had to fire incomplete to avoid a sack. On third-and-5, Golden Tate couldn't find any separation as the Lions settled for a third Prater field goal.
Bell's TD puts Steelers on top
Le'Veon Bell powered through the line of scrimmage for a five-yard touchdown that puts the Steelers up 10-6 with 4:10 remaining in the second quarter.
The drive: Antonio Brown brought in his first reception of the night for a nine-yard gain on first down. Bell was able to pick up the first down with ease and get the Steelers out across the 40. The Lions stuffed a run play on first down before Bell went for four yards on second down. On third-and-5, Ben Roethlisberger found Justin Hunter across midfield for the first down. After the Steelers picked up minimal yardage on their next two plays, Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 40-yard gain all the way down to the 5.
Prater adds to Lions lead
Matt Prater was true from 37 yards and the Lions have grabbed a 6-3 lead with 9:11 remaining in the first half.
After forcing a second consecutive three-and-out from the Steelers offense, the Lions got the ball back in good field position at their own 42.
Golden Tate made some defenders miss on a first down pass for a six-yard gain, and Ameer Abdullah was able to get into Steelers territory for a first down on a screen pass. On second down from the 43, Matt Stafford found Marvin Jones for two's second big hookup of the night down to the 10. A holding call put the Lions behind the chains, and a swing pass to Theo Riddick only went for one yard. On second-and-goal from the 19, , Stafford fired way over Jones' head in the end zone. On third down, Stafford's throw to TJ Jones had just a little too much on it.
Lions, Steelers tied after first quarter
After the defense forced a three-and-out from Pittsburgh, Ameer Abdullah showed off some moves for back-to-back runs that netted 15 yards and a Lions first down at their own 25. On third-and-six from the 29, Matt Stafford tried to hit Eric Ebron deep down the middle of the field, but he led his tight end just a little too far and the Lions were forced to punt.
At the end of the first quarter, it's still 3-3.
Lions go three-and-out after turnover
Ameer Abdullah rushed twice to start the Lions drive following the turnover, netting only four yards on first and second down. On third down, Matt Stafford was swallowed up by the Steelers defensive line and the Lions were forced to punt.
At the 3:52 mark of the first quarter, it's still 3-3.
Pittsburgh takes over at its own 44.
Quin stops Steelers in their tracks
Glover Quin laid out on a deep pass down the field and picked off Ben Roethlisberger to get the ball back to Matt Stafford in the offense.
It was good timing, too, as Pittsburgh had started to move the ball quickly on the Lions defense.
JuJu Smith-Schuster beat tight coverage from Nevin Lawson to haul in an 18-yard reception on the first play of the drive. After a short run by LeVeon Bell, Jesse James caught a 10-yard pass for a first down in Lions territory.
Lions answer Steelers with Prater FG
Matt Prater hit a 48-yard field goal and the Lions were able to counter the Steelers opening drive with three points of their own.
At the 7:50 mark of the first quarter, it's 3-3.
After being flushed out of the pocket on second-and-14, Matt Stafford found Marvin Jones over the top for a 43-yard gain down to the Pittsburgh 36. Golden Tate hauled in his first reception of the night for a four-yard gain, and on second down, TJ Jones reeled one in at the sticks for another Lions first down. Dwayne Washington followed with a five-yard run. After Eric Ebron dropped the ball on second down, the Lions were called for back-to-back false starts. On third-and-16, Washington gained just a yard as the Lions were resigned to their fate.
Steelers settle for early field goal
Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 41-yard gain on the first play of the game, putting the Lions on their heels at their own 34. LeVeon Bell was able to pick up a first down on back-to-back runs. After Bell set up a third-and-short with an eight-yard run, Roethlisberger hit Eli Rogers in stride in the end zone, but the third-year receiver dropped the ball.
Chris Boswell got the Steelers on the board with a 34-yard field goal that makes it 3-0 at the 12:12 mark of the first quarter.
LIONS VS. STEELERS
When: Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
TV / radio: NBC / WJR 760
Records: Lions 3-3, Steelers 5-2
Line: Steelers by 3