Still, it was a good sign that the Lions were in the game at all. All-Universe receiver Calvin Johnson(notes) was lost in the first quarter to his own knee injury, and Detroit didn't let the roster hits phase them. After the game, head coach Jim Schwartz told the media about his team's efforts.
"We didn't always play smart in this game; we didn't always play good in this game, but there's one thing you can't say, or one thing you can say is this team battled. I came into the game a little bit shorthanded, got shorthanded early in the game with some injuries, had a lot of guys jumble through and there were a lot of chances in this game that we might have, I don't want to say quit, but it might have gone a little different way and the players fought through it and had a chance at the end ... I don't want to think that this is anything other than a bottom-line loss, but I was proud of the team. I was proud of the way they fought."
The Lions can feel good about their performance. They ended the game with more first downs and rushing yards than the Steelers, and showed surprising toughness on defense. The primary problem in this game was the pass protection -- left tackle Jeff Backus(notes) was abused by endbacker James Harrison(notes) all day, and Culpepper was taken down seven times -- but if you watch the Lions week after week, you see the embryonic signs of improvement and competitiveness so foreign to the franchise in the Matt Millen era.