Skip to main content

5 things to watch: Lions at Steelers

The Detroit Lions are fresh off their bye week and looking to notch their first victory of the season with a road trip to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, a place they haven't won since 1955.

Here are five things to watch out for in today's interconference matchup:


Dan Campbell and his coaching staff spent last week's bye taking a deep dive into the first eight weeks of the season to identify ways in which they can help this Lions team play better football the second half of the season.

Whether it was mixing up personnel, or changes like rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown playing more outside receiver, everything was on the table for Campbell.

It will be interesting to see what kind of surprises Detroit will have on offense with Campbell taking a much bigger role on that side of the ball this week. It's no secret the Lions need to open up their passing game more. What have Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn come up with for this week coming out of the bye?


Veteran left tackle Taylor Decker returned to practice this week after missing the first eight games of the season with a finger injury. Decker took left tackle reps with the first team in the portions of practice open to the media this week and was listed on Detroit's practice report all week as a full participant. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said there's a high chance Decker plays today.

Lynn said this week it might be a little aggressive to think Decker can play every snap having missed the last two months, but his return is big for this offense. Detroit's a much better pass-blocking team with Decker and Penei Sewell in the lineup together. The Lions have talked about taking more deep shots. To do that, they need to protect quarterback Jared Goff and give him time. The run blocking should be better too.

Decker was a top 12 tackle in the NFL last year. There may be a little rust initially, but the Lions are a better offense with Decker in the lineup the second half of the season.


The Lions are coming off their worst defensive performance of the season two weeks ago when they allowed Philadelphia to score 44 points and rack up 236 rushing yards. It was so bad, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and his players buried the game tape – literally.

One of the biggest issues the first eight games for the defense has been their inability to stop teams in the red zone. Opponents are scoring a touchdown after reaching the red zone 83.3 percent of the time, which is the highest percentage in the league.

Glenn said he, his defensive coaches and the players spent a lot of time on red-zone defense during the bye and during this week of practice and preparation for the Steelers. They think they've identified some things that can help them.

The Steelers enter today's contest 14th in the NFL scoring touchdowns in the red zone 61.9 percent of the time.


The Lions claimed former Rams and Titans wide receiver Josh Reynolds off waivers Wednesday. Reynolds, who played four years in Los Angeles with Goff, got into Allen Park Thursday.

Reynolds connected with Goff in the morning and then took part in practice both Thursday and Friday, along with Saturday's walkthrough. That's really a short amount of time to be ready to step on the field and play in an NFL game, but Reynolds did say this week his familiarity with Goff has really sped up his understanding of Detroit's playbook.

The Lions need help at the receiver position. Like we mentioned earlier, St. Brown is expected to play both on the outside and in the slot, but if they can work Reynolds into some situations where he's comfortable, it doesn't seem like a bad idea to add him to the mix.

We'll see 90 minutes before kickoff if that's the plan, or if the Lions opt to make Reynolds inactive and give him another week to get more up to speed.


The Steelers announced late Saturday that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out for today's game and will go on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Mason Rudolph, who has not played this season, is expected to start in Roethlisberger's place. Rudolph is 5-4 as a starter, with all five of those wins coming during the 2019 season. He's completed 61.7 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his career.

Pittsburgh has lost their last four games in which Roethlisberger hasn't started. That's a huge loss for the Steelers. Can the Lions take advantage?

Related Content