Steelers and Lions play to a 16-16 Tie
[Pittsburgh,PA]It is exceedingly rare that an NFL game plays to a tie, but when it does happen, it is obvious. There have been 27 tied games since overtime was introduced in 1974; 17 ties occurred from 1974 to 2011 under the original overtime rules, while ten ties have occurred since the overtime rules were modified in 2012. Four seasons (1986, 1997, 2016, and 2018) had two ties since the introduction of overtime.
Ironically, the Pittsburgh Steelers played in the first regular-season overtime game in NFL history when they tied the Denver Broncos in 1974. Since then, they have played in 3 more: 2002 (34-34 tie vs. the Atlanta Falcons), 2018 (21-21 vs. the Cleveland Browns) and this Sunday’s game vs. the 0-8 Detriot Lions in which it ended in a 16-16 tie which drops the Steelers record to 5-3-1.
“Just met with the team in there and acknowledged the fight but didn’t congratulate them for it. Quite frankly, that’s going to be required when you are trying to do and be what we’re trying to do and be.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “That fight, that competitive spirit, and that smiling in the face of adversity has to be a component of anything and everything we do. I did acknowledge it. I’m appreciative of the efforts. Just too sloppy to win.”
Although it was not a win for the Steelers, it was not a loss either as the Lions are still winless at 0-8-1. Nonetheless, it was a disappointing outcome for the Steelers and their 58,716 fans at Heinz Field, because the home team certainly had many opportunities to win this game, especially in overtime.
“Core fundamental things: we didn’t tackle well enough throughout the game defensively, and then in the most critical moments, we didn’t maintain possession of the ball on offense.” Said Tomlin. “So, we’ve got to accept responsibility for the outcome of the game, and we do. We look at what it is that we can do and how we could have done it better in terms of changing the outcome of the game.”
QB Mason Rudolph, filling in for starter Ben Roethlisberger (COVID/Reserve list) got his team into FG range on 2 occasions, only to have them both result in costly fumbles. The first one happened earlier in OT when he found WR Diontae Johnson for a 39-yard gain, but the ball was stripped and recovered by the Lions and the end one was late in the OT period when TE Pat Friermuth lost the ball after getting tackled with 8 seconds left.
The lone bright moment for Rudolph was when he led the Steelers on a scoring drive to open the game when he found WR James Washington for a 9-yard TD pass and a 7-0 lead. But unfortunately, that was the only time the Steelers would score the rest of the game as Rudolph’s passes were either dropped, overthrown or intercepted in the cold and rainy conditions. Rudolph would finish the game passing for 242 yards (30/50) with a TD and interception. RB Najee Harris tried his best to help his team win as he ran 26 times for 105 yards, his 2nd 100-yard game of the season and Johnson led the team with 83 yards and fellow WR Ray-Ray McCloud caught a career-high nine passes and K Chris Boswell kicked 3 FGs. But unfortunately, the Steelers were only able to manage 16 points.
Tomlin said this about Rudolph: “He did what we expected him to do. He gave us a chance to win, but that’s not the first opportunity for him. This guy has been at it a while, and so we expected him to play well, and we thought he gave us a chance to win.”
The defense also had their struggles, especially in the first 3 quarters as they were unable to neutralize the Lions running game as they gave up 229 yards and 2 TDs to Jermar Jefferson (28 yards) and Godwin Igwebuike (42 yards). Starter D’Andre Swift led all rushers with 130 yards on 30 carries. Lions K Ryan Santoso kicked a 20-yard FG, but he also missed an extra point and missed a potential game-winner in overtime.
When Tomlin was asked if it the lack of tackling early in the game was the reason for their early struggles, he replied “It was, largely. There’s a guy out of place or two there initially, but if you had to wrap it in a bow and talk about it globally or largely, we had to tackle better. As the game went on, we did, and we were able to settle it down, but the damage was the damage.”
And then there were the injuries as the Steelers lost CB Joe Haden, LB TJ Watt and guards Trai Turner and Kevin Dotson to injuries.
“On the injury front, Joe Haden has a midfoot sprain. T.J. Watt has a hip and a knee that have got to be evaluated. Trai Turner has an ankle. [Kevin] Dotson has an ankle. We’ll assess those guys and I’ll give you an update regarding those guys on Tuesday the way that we normally do.” Said Tomlin.
To quote former head coach Glen Edwards: “You play to win the game!” The Steelers and Lions did not win the game but did not lose either. The best thing that both teams can do is move on and hope for a victorious outcome next Sunday, especially in the Steelers case as they will travel to Los Angeles to face the Chargers on Sunday Night Football.
“We look at what it is that we can do and how we could have done it better in terms of changing the outcome of the game. But we didn’t do enough, and those are two of the things that highlighted it just from a knee-jerk response or a feel in terms of watching it from within the stadium.” Said Tomlin. “We’ll make the necessary corrections and learn from this hopefully and move forward.
Tip of the cap to those guys. Detroit, they played. They were competitive. They challenged us in a lot of ways, but it’s not about them or us. It’s not about anyone that we play. It’s about us and the quality of our work and execution, the completeness of our plan and so forth, the adjustments we make from a staffing standpoint. And there wasn’t enough of that to secure victory.”
Notes: The 2020 and 2020 Steelers Hall of Honor Classes were honored during the game.
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