Recap: Lions’ offense struggles in 19-9 preseason loss to Steelers

Detroit News

Well that was certainly a preseason finale to remember, but perhaps not for the reasons that Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell hoped entering Week 3 at Pittsburgh.

David Blough and Tim Boyle once again struggled to gain control of the Lions’ offense or Detroit’s backup quarterback job, as the Lions didn’t score a touchdown until less than a minute remained in Sunday’s 19-9 preseason loss to the Steelers.

Blough was 17-for-32 for 160 yards and a touchdown and Boyle was 5-for-15 for 64 yards and an interception. It was a particularly good day for two Lions running backs, however: Justin Jackson (8 attempts, 44 yards) and Craig Reynolds (6 attempts, 31 yards) both made a case for staying on as the Lions’ third or fourth running backs.

Defensively, the Lions were hit and miss. Aidan Hutchinson and Charles Harris teamed up for a sack in the first quarter and Austin Bryant blocked a field goal in the second half. Kerby Joseph led the team in tackles (seven) for a second straight week.

Drive start: PIT 8 (7:06 4th)

A pass interference penalty on Will Harris gives the Lions 16 free yards to start the drive.

Three straight incompletions will give Detroit the ball back.

Steelers 19, Lions 3 (5:19 4th)

Drive start: DET 26 (5:19 4th)

The Lions get to fourth-and-10 at the 50 after a big run by Kalil Pimpleton. For the second time this drive, though, the Lions are flagged for a false start.

David Blough escapes from the pocket on fourth down and flips an underhand throw to Godwin Igwebuike while falling down and converts with a 15-yard gain.


Blough later converts another fourth-down pass to Trinity Benson, which is supplemented by a roughing-the-passer penalty.

It’s first-and-10 at the 12.

Blough throws three times to the end zone, all of them incomplete. But the Steelers take a fourth-down penalty that extends the drive.

Blough eventually finds the end zone with a flip pass to Quintez Cephus.

The two-point conversion is incomplete.

Steelers 19, Lions 9 (0:30 4th)

But they do recover the onside kick, so we’re not quite done here.

Blough is eventually sacked on third down to end the game.

FINAL: Steelers 19, Lions 10

Lions turn ball over on downs after drops in end zone

Drive start: DET 25 (12:59 4th)

Craig Reynolds gets his first carry of the game and rips off a 16-yard gain.

The Lions then get to second-and-20 after an offensive pass interference penalty on Maurice Alexander, who picks up an 18-yard reception. Tom Kennedy moves the chains with an 8-yard gain.

Reynolds is cooking; he adds a 17-yard run to get Detroit to the Pittsburgh 21.

It becomes third-and-3 after a short run by Godwin Igwebuike and short completion to Kalil Pimpleton. Reynolds comes up clutch again with a 6-yard completion and a new set of downs at the 8.

An end-zone throw to Kennedy on second down is broken up. Would have been another huge play for Kennedy as he tries to make the roster. On fourth down, Pimpleton drops a ball in the end zone.

Turnover on downs.

Steelers 19, Lions 6 (7:06 4th)

Drive start: PIT 20 (3:24 3rd)

Pittsburgh dinks and dunks its way downfield, reaching the Detroit 42 on a 7-yard completion to end the third quarter. It’ll be second-and-3 when we return.

END 3RD: Steelers 16, Lions 3 

Pittsburgh opens the fourth quarter with a pair of run plays that set up first-and-10 at the Detroit 34.

Incompletions on the next two plays force third-and-10, which results in a throw in the flat to former Michigan State running back Connor Heyward that goes for a loss of 2.

Chris Boswell’s 54-yard field goal try is good.

Steelers 19, Lions 3 (12:59 4th)

Drive start: DET 20 (4:56 3rd)

Justin Jackson rips off another 10-yard run to start the drive, then catches a pass for 7. His stock is going way up over these last two games.

But Tim Boyle’s inaccuracy plagues the Lions on the next set of downs, and the Lions will punt after a pair of incompletions.

Steelers 16, Lions 3 (3:24 3rd)

Drive start: PIT 31 (9:55 3rd)

Kenny Pickett leads Pittsburgh down the field with quick gains through the air and solid runs by Benny Snell.

Miles Boykin hauls in a 29-yard throw down the sideline over Bobby Price. The Lions force third-and-10, which results in Mark Gilbert stepping up to deflect a pass to the end zone.

Chris Boswell’s 29-yard field goal try is blocked by Austin Bryant.

Steelers 16, Lions 3 (4:56 3rd)

Drive start: DET 15 (12:40 3rd)

Tim Boyle starts the third quarter at quarterback for the Lions.

Justin Jackson rips off a 9-yard run then catches a 32-yard pass to make it first-and-10 at the Pittsburgh 44.

After a first-down incompletion, it’s another 3-yard run for Jackson.

The Lions get bailed out on third down by a pass interference call, but on the next third-down play for Detroit, Boyle fires the pass right into a hand of the defensive line.

The Lions are on the board with a 36-yard field goal for Austin Seibert.

Steelers 16, Lions 3 (10:01 3rd)

Drive start: PIT 25 (15:00 3rd)

Rookie Kenny Pickett comes in to start the second half at quarterback for Pittsburgh.

Pickett completes a 14-yard completion on second-and-11, but the Detroit defense stands tall on the next set of downs to force a punt on fourth-and-6.

Steelers 16, Lions 0 (12:40 3rd)

Drive start: PIT 20 (5:17 2nd)

After a 13-yard completion to George Pickens on first down, Pittsburgh has it first-and-15 at the 28 thanks to a false start penalty.

The Lions do a good job of shoring things up after first-and-15; Savion Smith makes a play in coverage down the sideline and two runs are stuffed.

Steelers 9, Lions 0 (2:44 2nd)

Drive start: DET 19 (2:44 2nd)

Justin Jackson rushes for 10 and 2 yards, bringing us to the two-minute warning.


Blough’s second- and third-down passes are incomplete. Jack Fox out to punt.

Steelers 9, Lions 0 (1:34 2nd)

Drive start: PIT 8 (1:34 2nd)

The Lions take their fifth and sixth penalties of the day as Pittsburgh gets it first-and-10 at its own 36 with a minute left.

Pickens is picking on Savion Smith now, as he gets open to draw a pass interference penalty and then beats him for a 22-yard gain to the Pittsburgh 38. 22 seconds left.

Pat Freiermuth hauls in a throw over Derrick Barnes and Pittsburgh calls its second timeout.

First-and-10 at the Detroit 6. Steven Sims beats Smith on a slant in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.

Steelers 16, Lions 0 (0:14 2nd)

The Lions kneel out the rest of the clock.

END 2ND: Steelers 16, Lions 0 

Drive start: DET 12 (8:38 2nd)

David Blough is still in at quarterback for Detroit.

After another penalty (this time a holding call on offensive guard Jonah Jackson) gets the Lions to third-and-12. Blough picks up the first down with an 18-yard completion to the Detroit 18.

Blough then fumbles a snap, picks it up, and fires to Josh Reynolds for a gain of 24 to the Pittsburgh 48.

Blough is sacked for a loss of 7 on the next play. An incompletion turns into third-and-17, which results in a near-interception intended for DJ Chark.

Jack Fox out to punt.

Steelers 9, Lions 0 (5:17 2nd)

Drive start: DET 17 (11:45 2nd)

David Blough has entered the game at quarterback for Detroit.

Blough hands off to Jermar Jefferson for a yard on the first two plays, then scrambles for 7 to make it fourth-and-1, and Detroit will go for it at its own 25.

Justin Jackson is stopped short of the line, and it’ll be Pittsburgh ball.

Steelers 6, Lions 0 (10:16 2nd)

Drive start: DET 25 (10:16 2nd)

Detroit forces a third-and-5, where Alex Anzalone nearly picks off a third-down pass. Pittsburgh was flagged for illegal formation, anyway, but the Lions decline.

Chris Boswell puts home the 38-yard field goal, as the Steelers take a two-possession lead.

Steelers 9, Lions 0 (8:45 2nd)

Drive start: DET 20 (3:14 1st)

The Lions take over facing a deficit for the first time today.

Jermar Jefferson finally breaks through with a 27-yard run on second-and-18 that puts the Lions at the Detroit 40.

END 1ST: Steelers 3, Lions 0

Facing a third-and-15, Tim Boyle is intercepted by Cameron Sutton to end the drive after a 45-yard return to the Detroit 19.

Steelers 3, Lions 0 (14:06 2nd)

It turns out to be a good series for Jeff Okudah, who drops Najee Harris for a loss of 2 on first down and then breaks up a throw to George Pickens in the end zone on third down.

Chris Boswell makes a 34-yard field goal.

Steelers 6, Lions 0 (12:32 2nd)

Drive start: PIT 15 (9:36 1st)

The Steelers start cooking with gas on their second drive. Aidan Hutchinson is flagged for a neutral zone in fraction, and the very next play, Diontae Johnson hauls in a 38-yard pass to the Detroit 39 before Najee Harris runs for 11, then catches a pass for 9.

It’s second-and-1 at the 19 and quickly turns into first-and-10 at the 14. After a holding penalty on the Steelers, Detroit’s defense stands tall to force a 45-yard field goal.

Steelers 3, Lions 0 (3:22 1st)

Drive start: DET 44 (10:29 1st)

The Lions show off an uninspired three-and-out on their second drive of the game. Left tackle Taylor Decker was penalized for illegal formation on third down; the penalty was declined.

Lions 0, Steelers 0 (9:36 1st)

Drive start: PIT 21 (12:31 1st)

Mitch Trubisky starts at quarterback for Pittsburgh.

Tracy Walker gets a second-down sack by running Trubisky out of bounds. Aidan Hutchinson and Charles Harris get in the backfield on third down to pull Trubisky down for the sack.

Lions 0, Steelers 0 (10:29 1st)

Drive start: DET 29 (14:54 1st)

Roster bubble running back Justin Jackson returns the opening kickoff 28 yards for Detroit. Tim Boyle will get first reps at quarterback.

A 15-yard completion to T.J. Hockenson starts the day with a bang. It becomes first-and-5 with an offsides penalty. The Steelers get Detroit to third-and-3 and T.J. Watt blows up Jermar Jefferson for a 5-yard loss.

Lions 0, Steelers 0 (12:31 1st)

Lions at Steelers

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

TV/radio: CBS Detroit/97.1 FM

Preseason records: Lions (1-1); Steelers (2-0) ‘

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