The Detroit Lions were able to escape the grim fate of an 0-17 season with their tie on Sunday in a dreary afternoon game against Pittsburgh. However, the Lions weren’t able to capitalize on the many opportunities afforded to them by the Mason Rudolph led Steelers.
Poor quarterback play and a heavy downpour hampered both offenses and the game came to a merciful end with the Steelers’ tight end Pat Friermuth fumbling the ball on a play that could have potentially set up a game-winning field goal attempt.
Here are five numbers that better tell the story of this difficult to watch tie.
T.J. Hockenson only saw one target in the game on Sunday. One. Target. With the Lions’ wide receiver corps consisting of inexperienced young wideouts, the passing game needs to lean on D’Andre Swift and Hockenson in games like these. But this week neither of them made much of an impact as pass-catchers.
Hockenson was unable to reel in his only target of the game and overtime, while Swift recorded a season-low three catches. In a game where Jared Goff was unable to hit his wideouts, you would want to see the OC scheme up a play to get the ball in the hands of one of these two playmakers. A large reason why the Lions weren’t able to come up with a win is due to their inability to get these two involved.
The offensive line was stellar against a high-powered Steelers’ pass rush, only allowing 10 pressures through four quarters and overtime. Rookie tackle Penei Sewell played well in his first start at right tackle, allowing zero pressures throughout the game.
This team is rebuilding and could use upgrades at almost every position. But it is good to know that this offensive line is already one of the best in the NFL and will be able to help whatever young quarterback starts for this franchise in the future.
This line is already playing well and can get even better when All-Pro center Frank Ragnow returns next season.
The offensive line didn’t just prove their worth as pass blockers; the average yards per carry in this game for the Lions was 5.9 thanks to their efforts. The line was able to clear holes for Swift to exploit on many occasions, and they were able to push the Steelers’ front four back.
While I don’t want to already look forward to next season, it is encouraging to see that this offensive line is already so good with all of the capital that has been invested into it, with Ragnow, Decker, and Sewell all being first-round picks.
While the running attack was strong for the Lions, the Steelers featured an equally strong rushing attack, with the Lions’ average depth of tackle occurring 4.1 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
It was a rough day for the Lions’ linebacker corps as Pittsburgh’s rookie running back Najee Harris forced eight missed tackles from the Lions’ linebackers. The Lions’ front seven was bullied by the Steelers’ offensive line for almost all of Sunday afternoon. They only allowed eight pressures through the course of the entire game.
If the Lions want to get their first win this season, the front seven is going to have to get pressure on the quarterback and not leave the secondary out to dry.
Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs had a rough outing Sunday. He allowed a passer rating of 117.3. Jacobs struggled in his 34 coverage snaps as he allowed the highest passer rating of any Lions defender by over 25 points. Jacobs was targeted seven times and allowed four grabs for 47 yards.
While the pass rush needs to help the secondary and get pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, the secondary needs to hold up better in coverage situations against lackluster quarterbacks.