Detroit Lions preseason report card: Week 3 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 28: Carlins Platel #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers breaks up a pass intended for Tom Kennedy #85 of the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium on August 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 28: Carlins Platel #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers breaks up a pass intended for Tom Kennedy #85 of the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium on August 28, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions lost their preseason finale to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and in the process a lot of players were given a final chance to make their case to be on the 53-man roster.

For the third and final time in 2022, the Detroit Lions took the field for some preseason action on Sunday. In a fairly low-event game, they lost 19-9 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So how did the Lions fare overall in the preseason finale? Well, let’s dive into some report cards and find out.

Detroit Lions Week 3 Preseason Report Card

Offense: 2/5 Stars

Detroit didn’t exactly put on an offensive showcase in this one. The starters struggled to move the ball, plagued by poor quarterback play. The reserves showed more signs of life, but critical mistakes kept the offense from any significant production.

There isn’t that much cause for concern right now. The starting offense should look infinitely better with Jared Goff under center, and D’Andre Swift in the backfield. It also shouldn’t be discounted how the Steelers’ defense is among the best in the league.

Best offensive player(s): RBs Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson

The battle for RB3 has heated up over the last few weeks, as these two continue to impress. Heading into final cuts, there is a case to be made for either back. However, the most compelling case to be made is for both to be on the roster.

Reynolds continues to be a steady between the tackles force, and he showed some capabilities as a receiver in this game as well. Whereas Jackson shows his experience, his ability to read running lanes and pick up extra yards is evident every time he touches the ball.

Worst offensive player: QB Tim Boyle 

The competition for the backup quarterback spot came to a very predictable conclusion in this game. Neither passer was particularly good, or even average. But Boyle certainly was the lesser of the two quarterbacks in this game.

Poor decision-making, poor accuracy, and leaving clean pockets for no reason. Not exactly a recipe for success.

It’s possible the Lions only keep two quarterbacks on the final 53, and Boyle may have handed the backup job to David Blough today.

Defense: 3/5 Stars

The defense had a day that in many ways was the reverse of the offense. The starting defensive line was disruptive, led by Charles Harris and Aidan Hutchinson. The starting secondary also looked sharp against the Steelers’ starters–save for one big completion allowed by Amani Oruwariye on a perfect throw from Mitch Trubisky.

However, the second and third-team defense didn’t fare as well. The second team secondary especially struggled against the onslaught of back shoulder fades thrown by the Steelers’ quarterbacks. What resulted was a number of frustrating reps which resulted in big plays or pass interference calls.

Best defensive player: CB Jeff Okudah

Okudah has been trending upward over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago it was unclear if he or Will Harris would be starting opposite Oruwariye. Now? Okudah seems closer to CB1 status than CB3.

Okudah was active near the line of scrimmage in the run game against the Steelers, getting in on a few tackles. He also held his own against preseason star George Pickens with some strong reps in coverage.

Worst defensive player: CB Savion Smith 

As mentioned a moment ago, the second-string secondary couldn’t hold up against the barrage of back shoulder fades. Smith certainly faced the brunt of that, especially on the final drive of the first half.

For a while it looked like Smith might steal a roster spot because he looked competent in press-man coverage. Now it looks a lot more uncertain, but leaving a bad final impression is not a great way to make the roster.

Special Teams: 5/5 Stars

The kickers didn’t get much run due to the offense failing to produce much for a majority of the game. As a result, Jack Fox got to boot the ball five times with his usual success.

The punt and kick coverage was adequate. They had a few reps of giving up above-average returns, but Malcolm Rodriguez also had a very nice rep in punt coverage to down the returner inside the 10.

As a bonus, Austin Bryant continued to add to his spectacular training camp with a blocked field goal. All in all a great special teams day.

Final Thoughts

The preseason is over seemingly as quickly as it began, with three games over the course of a little over two weeks. Now the Lions need to trim the roster down to 53 by Tuesday afternoon.

This year certainly had a lot more competition in camp and preseason games, which is going to result in some very difficult decisions to be made. The regular season is two weeks away, when the Lions will welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to Ford Field.

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