Steelers Hold Off Matthew Stafford, Lions Behind JuJu Smith-Schuster's Big Night

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2017

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 29: Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball after a making a catch against cornerback Nevin Lawson #24 of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 29, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers utilized a bend-but-don't-break approach on defense to earn a 20-15 road victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.

Despite totaling 482 yards from scrimmage, the Lions were unable to get into the end zone, and five Matt Prater field goals weren't enough to come away with a home win.

JuJu Smith-Schuster took care of business on the other side of the field with 193 receiving yards in a career day to help the Steelers move to 6-2 heading into a bye. The Lions fell to 3-4 with the loss, including a 1-3 record at home. 


Breakout Game for JuJu

Smith-Schuster had made big plays all season, but Sunday was his introduction to the national audience.

With Martavis Bryant inactive due to his recent social media activity, the rookie came through with a 41-yard catch on the first play from scrimmage and didn't slow down from there. He ended with seven catches for 193 yards and a score.

The highlight was a 97-yard touchdown reception that was the longest in Steelers history, per ESPN Stats & Info. The NFL tweeted out the long catch and run:


And @TeamJuJu takes it all the way! It's a 97-yard @steelers TOUCHDOWN 🙌 #HereWeGo #PITvsDET https://t.co/DcpbwwdagF

The 20-year-old quickly made a lot of new fans:

Jerome Bettis @JeromeBettis36

What a run! Incredible play JuJu! #herewego

Chad Johnson @ochocinco

JuJu 🔥🔥🔥

Andrea Hangst @FBALL_Andrea

It's fun to watch JuJu not just because he's good but because he's also having a good time. And it's not always easy to have a good time and be an NFL player.

On a night where Le'Veon Bell (76 rushing yards) and Antonio Brown (70 receiving yards) were relatively quiet, Smith-Schuster stole the show.


Stafford Carries Lions Offense

It isn't a surprise to see the Lions struggle to move the ball on the ground, but Matthew Stafford took care of business through the air to keep his team competitive.

Even though he didn't throw a touchdown, he still went 27-of-43 for 423 passing yards on the night.

Matt Williamson of theScore succinctly described the performance:

Matt Williamson @WilliamsonNFL

Stafford: High Level Quarterbacking

Stafford spread the ball around to nine different players, three of whom totaled at least 80 receiving yards. Marvin Jones led the way with 128 yards on six catches, but the quarterback was the true standout in the game.

His counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, finished with 317 passing yards and a touchdown, but he wasn't quite as sharp and relied on his playmakers to shoulder the load.


Red-Zone Struggles Decide Game

Neither team had any trouble moving the ball in the first half, with big plays leading to 445 combined yards from scrimmage at halftime. However, turnovers and struggles in the red zone led to a low-scoring battle, with the Lions up 12-10 early.

Prater went 4-for-4 on field goals in the opening 30 minutes to keep the home team in front. He finished 5-for-5 in the game.

Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review summed up the action:

Chris Adamski @C_AdamskiTrib

Hitting more 3s than Steph Curry, the Lions take a 12-10 lead on the Steelers just before halftime

It didn't change much in the second half, with the field goals piling on and both teams struggling to get into the end zone.

The Steelers scored touchdowns on one of their three red-zone trips, while the Lions went 0-of-5.

While both teams had their problems in the red zone, the Lions ultimately cost themselves with failed attempts to score a touchdown.

Detroit got the ball to the Steelers' 1-yard line in the third quarter but was stopped on three straight plays to come away with zero points on the 10-play drive.

Bob Pompeani of KDKA TV discussed the goal-line stand:

Bob Pompeani @KDPomp

TERRIFIC #Steelers Goal line Stand....that is some tough ass football...just as the #Lions were ready to roar.. Still 13-12

The Lions made three trips inside the opposing 10-yard line on their final four drives but came away with just three points.

That wound up costing them the game:

Chris Adamski @C_AdamskiTrib

By my quick count... The Lions today, on plays run after they got to at least the Steelers’ 18: 16 snaps, 2 net yards (counting penalties)

Ed Werder @EdwerderRFA

Can't remember seeing a team as futile inside opponent 5-yard line as #Lions have been last 3 possessions vs #Steelers

The Steelers defense made its final fourth-down stop inside the two-minute warning, and the offense held on for the narrow win.

Pittsburgh will now have a well-deserved bye in Week 9 before returning in Week 10 with a road game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Lions have an important battle coming up in Week 9 with a road trip to face the Green Bay Packers. Although the division rivals will be without Aaron Rodgers, they are coming off a bye. This will be just the second NFC North game of the year for Detroit.


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