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Lions-Steelers: What we learned

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Jim Schwartz decided to take a gamble and it blew up on the Detroit Lions coach.

The Pittsburgh Steelers rallied for a 37-27 victory, the winning touchdown coming on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's 1-yard pass to fullback Will Johnson with 4:46 left Sunday, after Lions rookie punter Sam Martin lost a fumble on a fake punt attempt.

"You can say whatever you want about me but don't say I'm scared," Schwartz said. "I'm never going to say we're passive."

Leading 27-23, the Lions lined up for a 27-yard field goal attempt from the Steelers' 10-yard line on fourth-and-5 with 12:56 remaining. Martin, the holder, took the snap and gained the necessary five yards for the first down.

However, Martin fumbled when hit by nose tackle Steve McLendon and Steelers safety Ryan Clark recovered at the 3.

"I got hit by a 350-pound man," the 205-pound Martin said. "You have to give him credit. When you looked at it initially, it was a big hole."

Roethlisberger then took the Steelers on a 97-yard scoring drive that took 16 plays and 8:03, with Johnson catching the go-ahead score.

"We wouldn't have called it if we didn't think it was there," Schwartz said of the fake field goal. "We're trying to win the game. Why risk it? Every play is a risk. We still had a chance and the defense allowed them to drive 97 yards."

Roethlisberger was as sharp as he has been all season during the drive.

"It was a situation that I told the guys, first and foremost, let's get a first down," Roethlisberger said. "If you get a first down then you see where you go."

The Steelers added another touchdown with 2:29 left on wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery's 20-yard reception to make it 37-27. That score was set by safety Will Allen's interception of a pass by quarterback Matthew Stafford.

"Boy, that was a satisfying win," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns, completing 29 of 45 passes. Wide receiver Antonio Brown had seven receptions for 147 yards and two scores.

The Lions' pass-catch tandem of Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson had a big day but did almost all of their damage in the first half when the Detroit overcame a 14-0 deficit after one quarter to take a 27-20 halftime lead.

Stafford threw for 362 yards, though he completed just 19 of 46 passes. He threw two touchdown passes, both to Johnson, who finished with six receptions for 179 yards. However, Stafford had just 35 passing yards as rain intensified in the second half and Johnson was held without a catch.

The Steelers (4-6) have won four of their last six games after starting the season 0-4 for the first time since 1968. While gaining a playoff berth remains a longshot as they trail the first-place Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) by 2 1/2 games in the AFC North, they have won two in a row since giving up a franchise-worst 610 yards in a 55-31 loss to the New England Patriots on Nov 3.

The Lions (6-4) came into the game in sole possession of first place in NFC North but fell to 0-9-1 in their last 10 games in Pittsburgh since beating the Steelers in 1955 at Forbes Field. The Lions have lost 12 of their 14 games to the Steelers overall.

What the Lions said

"We have a good team. We will come back. We will go back to the drawing board and continue to play ball," -- Linebacker Stephen Tulloch.

What the Steelers said

"Everybody knows how great Calvin Johnson is, his ability. No catches in the second half. I'm sure was targeted. (Cornerback Ike) Taylor locked it down on him," -- Safety Will Allen.

What we learned about the Lions

1. Megatron can be stopped -- at least for a half. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson appeared on his way to a game for the ages when he had six catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. However, Johnson had no receptions in the second half. After the game, he blew off a group of waiting reporters.

2. The pass rush is toothless. The Lions have just 16 sacks in 11 games and managed just one against the Steelers' porous offensive line as Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass without getting brought down 45 of 46 times.

What we learned about the Steelers

1. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still has some life in his battered 31-year-old body. He shredded the Lions for 367 yards passing and four touchdowns, including two scores in the final five minutes when the Steelers rallied for the victory.

2. Cornerback Ike Taylor is resilient. He was torched by Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson for six receptions and 179 yards in the first half, but then held Megatron without a catch in the second half.
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