Ben Roethlisberger put on one of the best performances of his career and answered any questions about the offense's ability to compete in a shootout. He staked the Steelers to a 17-3 lead with two touchdowns, then brought them back from a 27-20 deficit with two more touchdown throws in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger finished with 367 yards and four touchdowns and a passer rating of 119.4 in wet conditions. And no turnovers.
The Steelers rushed for 40 yards on 27 carries, their fewest yards since the season opener. And Le'Veon Bell, despite a 13-yard run, finished with just 36 yards on 18 carries. But Bell caught four passes for 52 yards, including a 43-yard catch and run to set up a field goal. Will Johnson had only one touch but it was a big one -- a 1-yard touchdown catch that put the Steelers ahead, 30-27.
Antonio Brown had his second 100-yard game in a row and third this season with seven catches for 147 yards and touchdowns of 34 and 47 yards. On both scores, Brown ran 30 and 38 yards, respectively, after each catch. He also had a big 16-yard catch on third down to keep alive the winning 97-yard scoring drive. Heath Miller had a team-high eight catches, but his drop in the end zone forced the Steelers to settle for a field goal.
The running game produced its lowest total since they had 32 yards against Tennessee. And their average per carry of 1.8 yards tied a season low. What's more, four plays from the 1 failed to produce a touchdown. Guard Guy Whimper had two holding penalties that helped create a short field for the Lions to kick a field goal at the end of the half. Roethlisberger, though, was sacked just once, a season low. And props to guard David DeCastro, who negated Ndamukong Suh.
The Lions didn't appear to have any problems with the wet field, rushing for 107 yards and averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Cam Heyward continues to be disruptive in the defense, making six tackles and batting two passes. Steve McLendon's tackle thwarted the fake field-goal attempt from the Steelers 10. And Ziggy Hood, starting for injured Brett Keisel, had one of the two sacks and it was a big one -- on fourth down on the Lions' final play.
It's hard to applaud any defense that allows 27 points, 16 first downs and 379 yards in the first half. But the Steelers reversed all that in the second half, shutting out the Lions and holding them to 72 yards and five first downs after halftime. Jason Worilds played very well for injured LaMarr Woodley with seven tackles, four hurries and a sack. And rookie Jarvis Jones deflected two passes.
After allowing Matthew Stafford to pass for 327 yards in the first half, the Steelers held him to 35 yards on just 3 of 16 completions after halftime. Ike Taylor had a tough time trying to stop Calvin Johnson, who had six catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. And he also dropped two interceptions that let the Lions score 10 points at the end of the first half. But Johnson was shut out in the second half.
The Steelers had to settle for field goals on three of their four possessions inside the 20, continuing their red-zone problems. But Shaun Suisham converted all three attempts to push his season conversion total to 22 of 24. P Mat McBriar bailed the team out of a hole with a 70-yard punt to the Lions 12. But the biggest play came when the Steelers were not victimized by a fake field-goal attempt from the Steelers 10, leading 27-23.
It would be easy to say the Steelers changed their game plan and adjusted at halftime after the Lions put up 27 points in the second quarter with big pass plays. But defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau didn't make any changes and the players simply responded. A big effort by the offense to bail out the defense with a season-high 37 points and prove they are capable of winning these types of offensive shootouts. But the red-zone failures continue to be a problem.