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Steelers Defense Shuts Down Lions, Wraps Preseason Undefeated

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Steelers OLB T.J. Watt

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers defense answered Mike Tomlin’s challenge tp step up its play in the preseason finale, as the Steelers shut down the Detroit Lions in a 19-9 victory at Acrisure Stadium to finish the preseason undefeated.

The first-team defense largely shut down the Lions offense that played without starting quarterback Jared Goff and running back D’Andre Swift, and also provided the offense with two scoring opportunities, after a Cam Sutton interception and a Devin Bush fourth-down stop both gave the Steelers the ball deep in Detroit territory.

In the first half, the Lions had 111 net yards, rushing 12 times for 48 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and throwing 17 times, completing seven for 75 yards. The first-team defense did not allow a point.

The Steelers’ starting offense struggled to finish drives in the first half, with Chris Boswell called on to attempt three fields, including both of the drives that started deep in Detroit territory, when Mitch Trubisky and company failed to gain a first down.

The starting Pittsburgh offensive line struggled mightily for the second consecutive game. On the first two drives, the Steelers allowed two sacks, took two holding penalties and had a false start.

On the final drive of the first half, Trubisky got the offense moving. The first two-minute drill of the preseason for Trubisky went 92 yards in just six plays and 1:20. The biggest play was a 32-yard pass from Trubisky to tight end Pat Freiermuth straight up the middle to get the Steelers to the 6-yard line. Trubisky found Steven Sims for a score on the next play and the game’s only touchdown.

The Steelers starters stayed in for the entire first half on both sides of the ball. Trubisky finished 15 of 19 for 127 yards and the touchdown. Najee Harris got his first action of the preseason, rushing four times for 10 yards. Freiermuth caught three passes for 45 yards.

Kenny Pickett followed Trubisky in the third quarter and again impressed, though he was unable to lead the offense into the end zone. Pickett finish 10 of 14 for 90 yards and led two drives into field goal range, one of which was blocked. Chris Boswell made four of five field goals.

David Blough led a Lions scoring drive with seconds left and the Lions recovered the onside kick, but did nothing further in the game’s final seconds.

Diontae Johnson, T.J. Watt and Damontae Kazee all left with injuries, though Mike Tomlin said at halftime that Johnson and Watt only had minor ailments.

The Steelers went undefeated in the preseason for the first time since 1997, when they finished 5-0. The three-game preseason was the shortest in team history.

The club will have next weekend off before opening the 2022 regular season in Cincinnati on Sept. 11. Final cuts down to 53 players are due on Tuesday.

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