The holding calls near the end of the third quarter forced the Lions to punt the ball back to the Steelers but the special teams were able to pin them inside their own 20. The Steelers did manage a first down after taking possession but a good play to shed blockers and bring down the back from Willie Young and Caleb Campbell’s sniff out of a dump down pass forced to stall the drive.
Drew Stanton took over for the final 10:18 of the opener. His first pass went for a first down to Eric Fowler. Richard Dickson’s reception made Drew a quick 2-for-2. The collection of mostly third string players put together a nice screen pass to give Aaron Brown enough room for a first down. Stanton’s fourth attempt went incomplete but he had looked sharp until then. Tim Toone found himself open near the goal line but was overthrown. Aaron Pettrey’s 42 yard field goal attempt went wide right to keep the Lions deficit at nine.
The Steelers immediately took advantage of the Lions missed opportunity when former Central Michigan star Antonio Brown outran Amari Spievey for a 68-yard touchdown reception. 23-7 Steelers.
The Lions ensuing drive yielded a couple first downs. Eric Fowler grabbed another pass to move the chains and Aaron Brown found some nice running room but the drive ended when a Drew Stanton quarterback sneak came up short on a fourth and one.
Charlie Batch came on to finish the game for the Steelers with four and change to play in the fourth. Batch tried going deep on the Lions secondary but Chima Ihekwoaba hit him as he threw and Marvin White provided just enough coverage to keep the big play from happening.
Stanton and company returned and accomplished little more than running out the clock. We know what Stanton is and he isn’t an NFL quarterback. Final: Steelers 23, Lions 7
Matthew Stafford looks completely different from a year ago. His body language exudes leader and his performance showed a solid grasp of what the coaches want from him. Stafford was crisp and efficient, despite the one interception.
Jahvid Best is going to be a lot of fun to watch. He gave fans a brief glimpse of what the future holds with his speed in the open field and some elusiveness in the backfield. It isn’t going too far out on a limb to say this guy will be the best running back since Barry Sanders.
Aaron Brown wins the kick return battle tonight. Derrick Williams didn’t do himself any favors with his first quarter fair catch inside the five yard line and Brown’s speed is a difference maker.
Everyone knew that the defensive line would have to shine if the Lions defense was to rise above their historically bad level of the past few years. They certainly didn’t disappoint in preseason game number one as Kyle Vanden Bosch stood out especially. The Lions managed good pressure throughout.