Steelers lean on D, Smith-Schuster in 20-15 win over Lions
DETROIT (AP) — JuJu Smith-Schuster scored on a 97-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger late in the third quarter and the Pittsburgh Steelers forced the Detroit Lions to turn the ball over on downs twice in a 20-15 win Sunday night.
The AFC North-leading Steelers (6-2) go into their bye week with a three-game winning streak.
Detroit (3-4) was coming off its bye and lost a third straight and fourth in five games.
Pittsburgh’s defense put up a curtain in front of it end zone, forcing the Lions to settle for field goals. When they went for touchdowns, the Steelers stopped them.
Detroit coach Jim Caldwell chose to go for it on fourth down from the Steelers 1 trailing by one in the third quarter. Matthew Stafford was sacked as he stepped up out of a collapsing pocket and tried to run up the middle.
A snap after missing wide-open tight end Jesse James on the ensuing drive, Roethlisberger dropped back into his end zone and perfectly lofted a pass to Smith-Schuster. The rookie receiver ran for about 70 yards after the catch, running past cornerback Quandre Diggs and pulling away from safety Glover Quin on his way to the end zone.
Matt Prater kicked his fifth field goal on the next possession after Caldwell didn’t want to go for it on another fourth down from the Pittsburgh 1, drawing boos from a crowd that included a lot of black-and-yellow clad, towel-twirling fans cheering for the visitors.
Detroit got the ball back with a chance to drive for a go-ahead TD, but receiver Golden Tate blew it with an unforced fumble at the Steelers 24.
The Lions’ defense forced Pittsburgh to punt again and they failed to take advantage. After the 2-minute warning, Stafford threw an incomplete pass from the Pittsburgh 8.
THROUGH THE AIR
Smith-Schuster, selected No. 62 overall out of Southern California, had season highs with seven receptions for 193 yards. His last catch converted a third-and-1 from the Steelers 32, allowing them to run out the clock and to pick up 15 yards when defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson was ejected for throwing a punch.
Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, blanketed for much of the night by cornerback Darius Slay, had five catches for 70 yards.
TJ Jones, drafted by Detroit in 2014, had career highs with four receptions and 88 yards. Marvin Jones had six receptions for 128 yards for the Lions, who moved the ball well until they got deep into Pittsburgh territory.
Steelers: S Mike Mitchell hurt his right ankle, and was replaced by Robert Golden. … OL Chris Hubbard was evaluated for a concussion.
Lions: RB Dwayne Washington left the game with a concussion. … OT Rick Wagner went out with an ankle injury, and was able to return.
Steelers: Idle until playing Nov. 12 at Indianapolis.
Lions: Play at Green Bay on Monday, Nov. 6.