Five things to know about Lions’ tie with Steelers

Well, at least the Lions won’t finish the season 0-17.

In the strangest of strange games the Lions and Steelers tied at 16-16 after a scoreless overtime in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Detroit now owns an 0-8-1 record.

The Lions best chance to win it in overtime was blown when kicker Ryan Santoso was not even close on a 48-yard field goal attempt.

The silver lining was that the running game finished with 229 yards.

On the other hand, quarterback Jared Goff played possibly his worst game this season. He appeared to be injured in the first half, but stayed in the game. Usually an effective running game can open up the pass game, but that did not happen on Sunday. 

“Like I told the guys, I was upset we didn’t win but I was also proud of them because we put ourselves in position to win that game in overtime, it didn’t work out, then our defense has to go back and take the field,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “They’re driving and we force the turnover which I thought was big and that kept us from losing is what it did. We want to win, looking for our first win but I know this, we were better than we were two weeks ago.’’

If you’ve forgotten — or wiped it out of your memory — two weeks ago the Lions lost 44-6 to the Eagles and had to chew on that debacle during the bye week.

Five things to know about Sunday’s tie:

1. Campbell said on the sidelines they discussed Goff’s ability to play with his injury. “We all felt like he was good — he was good enough to go. … We all felt like he was good enough to stay in there, so that’s why we stuck with him,’’ the coach said. Goff finished 14 of 25 for 114 yards and was sacked four times.  Was there a way to get the ball to tight end T.J. Hockenson. It’s unexplainable that he didn’t have a single catch and just one target.

2. Much of the run game was on the shoulders of D’Andre Swift with Jamaal Williams out with an injury to start the game and Jermar Jefferson forced out after he was injured on his 28-yard touchdown run. Swift carried 33 times for 130 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and caught three passes for 5 yards. Godwin Igwebuike came up big with a 42-yard touchdown run. It was Swift who did all the dirty work, though. 

3. On the first possession the Steelers took the ball downfield with ease because the Lions secondary looked like they weren’t quite ready to go. The defense redeemed itself after that drive to finish the first half but there were still too many errors and penalties.

4. The tie can’t be all pinned on Santoso but the Lions really missed kicker Austin Seibert who is out with a hip injury. Santoso also missed an extra point which was costly. Other than that, special teams had a decent day with solid returns. Igwebuike had a 29-yard kick return and Igwebuike returned a punt 48 yards. 

5. After the loss two weeks ago, Campbell and the coaches examined the first half of the season. Apparently one of their decisions was to give Campbell more involvement on game day in the offense. He was the one communicating with Goff through the headphones although Anthony Lynn, the offensive coordinator, was also involved. Another change that seemed to work was putting offensive lineman Matt Nelson in at tight end to provide extra protection. It was a move that worked well, but Nelson was injured in the first half and missed the rest of the game. 

Up next: Lions (0-8-1) at Cleveland on Sunday, Nov. 21. The Browns (5-5) lost 45-7 to the Patriots on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions)

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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