The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) won their third straight game Sunday night, beating the Lions (3-4) in Detroit, 20-15. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 317 yards, and the defense held Detroit out of the end zone.
This should be cause for celebration among Steeler Nation, right?
Eh, not quite.
“I thought they were outplayed,” NFL analyst Ross Tucker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “For most of that game, I thought Matthew Stafford tore them up. I feel like this is the Steelers year (because) the defense has finally caught up with the offense with the three Bs of Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell, and now they got this JuJu Smith-Schuster making plays like he did last night, which was huge, and the defense for the Steelers has been awesome. But last night, Matthew Stafford tore them up.”
Stafford finished 27-of-45 for 423 yards but couldn’t punch it in near the goal line. The Lions were held to five field goals, including a 19-yarder from Matt Prater in the fourth quarter.
“They just couldn’t get it done down near the goal line,” Tucker said. “That game should have been the Lions’, and that’s one that – if they get to 8-8 and don’t make the playoffs – they’ll look back on and regret because they had so many opportunities. So I guess the negative for the Steelers is that they got tore up. The positive is that they were able to stiffen in the red zone, which is where so many games are won and lost now.”
Antonio Brown had a quiet night – five catches for 70 yards – while Le’Veon Bell averaged 3.0 yards per carry and fumbled. Smith-Schuster, however, erupted for seven catches for 193 yards and a score, including a 97-yard catch-and-run that gave Pittsburgh a 20-12 lead late in the third quarter.
If the 20-year-old can become a go-to receiver, the Steelers will be in business.
“This really should be their year,” Tucker said. “There’s some good teams in the NFC, but without Aaron Rodgers, there’s not a team that you point to and say, ‘Wow, they’re going to be tough to beat.’ And in the AFC, the Patriots aren’t quite what they’ve been. It feels like this is the best chance for the Steelers to get back to the Super Bowl with the way their defense is playing in quite some time. But I don’t know that they’re playing well enough offensively or that Ben is playing at a high enough level that they’ll be able to get there.”
The Steelers, who have a bye this week, will face the Colts (2-6) in Indianapolis on Nov. 12. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.