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Sunday’s meeting in Heinz Field will be the 33rd time the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers have met since 1934. And while the lifetime series is close, the Steelers have dominated the matchup of two of the NFL’s oldest teams.
Pittsburgh has won nine of the last 10 meetings in the series. The Lions one win over the Steelers since 1986 came in 1998 at the Pontiac Silverdome. Despite Barry Sanders managing to rush for just 33 yards on 20 carries — a total that includes a 21-yard gain — Detroit still prevailed when Jason Hanson nailed his fourth field goal of the game to lift the Lions to a 19-16 overtime win.
The last meeting came in Pittsburgh in 2017 with the Steelers winning, 20-15. In that game, Matthew Stafford passed for 423 yards but the Detroit offense settled for just five Matt Prater field goals.
Many of the games have been close. The 2001 game is the exception. Pittsburgh was 11-2 and the Lions stood at 1-12 entering that one, and the Steelers proved the records were legit in a 47-14 whooping where the Lions managed just 11 first downs with Mike McMahon under center.
Detroit does have a lopsided victory of its own in the series. Back on Thanksgiving in 1983, Eric Hipple threw two TD passes to Ulysses Norris as part of a 45-3 spanking of the visiting Steelers. Pittsburgh’s quarterbacks completed just 11 of their 33 pass attempts and the Lions intercepted five of those errant throws.
The wins in 1983 and 1998 are the only two by Detroit in the Super Bowl era, with Pittsburgh winning the other 12. The Lions did win the first four meetings back in the 1930s and also went on a 6-0-1 run from 1950 to 1962, an era where the Steelers were consistently the inferior team to Detroit.