Steelers rally to overcome Lions

John Perrotto, The Sports Xchange
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.
The Steelers broke out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter as Roethlisberger and Brown connected on touchdown passes of 34 and 47 yards.
Akers got the Lions on the board with a 35-yard field goal but Shaun Suisham answered with a 25-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh a 17-3 lead with 10:31 left in the second quarter.
However, Johnson broke got open deep over the middle and hauled in a pass from Stafford that went for a 79-yard touchdown.
A 34-yard field goal by Suisham made it 20-10 but Johnson caught a 19-yard touchdown pass and the Lions then went ahead 24-20 with 1:42 left in the half when Joique Bell had a 2-yard touchdown run two plays after a 37-yard pass reception. Akers added a 19-yard field goal with four seconds to go.
The Steelers drew to 27-23 on Suisham's third field goal, a 21-yarder in the third quarter.
"We weren't where we needed to be at the end of the first half," Tomlin said. "We were bleeding a little bit and they got some points on the board, but to guys' credit, we gathered at the half. Guys didn't blink.
"We made the necessary adjustments. We came out and played a good 30 minutes of football and did what was necessary to get the victory."
NOTES: Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and LB Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) left the game with injuries as did the Lions' Bell (foot). ... LB LaMarr Woodley (calf) was among the Steelers' inactivates along with G Ramon Foster (ankle), DE Brett Keisel (foot), S Shamarko Thomas (ankle). ... Lions DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) was inactive along with WR Nate Burleson (forearm), CB Bill Bentley (knee), RB Montell Owens (knee) and T Corey Hilliard (knee). ... Allen led the Steelers with 11 tackles while the Lions were topped by LB DeAndre Levy's 12, including two for loss. ... Detroit hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday while Pittsburgh visits the Cleveland Browns.

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