PITTSBURGH – The forecast all week called for rainy conditions Sunday in Pittsburgh, so the Lions planned to lean on their run game.
That became even more of a necessity when quarterback Jared Goff strained an oblique muscle on his right side attempting a long pass to wide receiver Kalif Raymond in the first quarter.
"I describe it as probably a strained oblique," Goff said after Sunday's 16-16 tie with the Steelers. "Just kind of nagged me a little bit throughout the game. I thought I was fine to stay in there. I felt like it didn't affect me through the game. It'll be a little sore tomorrow, but I'll be fine."
Goff had just 11 passing yards at halftime as the Lions relied on their run game Sunday. Goff finished 14-of-25 passing for 114 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. The Lions rarely pushed the ball down the field in the contest, and the injury probably played a bit of a factor in that, but so did their success running the ball.
Detroit rushed 39 times in the contest for 229 yards for a 5.9 average and two scores. It's the most yards they rushed for in a game since going for 248 against the Dolphins in 2018.
"I kept talking to our trainers, talking to him, talking to (quarterbacks coach Mark) Brunell," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game of the Goff injury. "The consensus was to leave him in there. He's good to go, he wanted to go, he felt good enough to do what he needs to do. So, that's what we did."
Goff said he could still throw the football through the discomfort. He said if it ever got to a point where he thought it restricted his ability to throw the ball, he would have taken himself out of the game.
It will be something to monitor this week as the Lions prepare for a matchup in Cleveland on Sunday.
Veteran left tackle Taylor Decker made his 2021 season debut Sunday after missing the first eight games with a finger injury.
Decker is one of the better left tackles in the game. It's probably not a coincidence Detroit rushed for 229 yards, which was more than double the average Pittsburgh was allowing per game on the ground this year (109.8), in Decker's first game back.
It allowed rookie Penei Sewell to shift over to the right side, and for Detroit to utilize Matt Nelson, who started the first eight games at right tackle, as a sixth lineman in a heavy package.
"All week it was just part of the game plan," Sewell said after the game. "We knew 68 (Decker) was coming back, so we had Matt play the heavy package and we just went from there. Everybody on that line had experience and we knew that coming in and we were going to lean on them."
No Jamaal Williams, no problem for the Lions' offense.
Williams has been the thunder to D’Andre Swift's lightning all season, but Williams missed his second straight game Sunday due to a thigh injury.
Knowing it was going to be a run-heavy game-plan, Swift said running backs coach Duce Staley challenged Detroit's backs, and said it was going to be on them to determine the outcome Sunday.
They stepped up.
Swift rushed for a career-high 130 yards, Godwin Igwebuike rushed twice for 56 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and rookie Jermar Jefferson scored Detroit's first touchdown on a 28-yard run. He finished with 41 rushing yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
"I was proud of those guys," Campbell said of his running backs. "All those guys had production. Went in there and did a great job. Duce has done a nice job with those guys. They all got ability."
Goff couldn't remember ever playing in a tie in his football career. Both Sewell and Swift said playing in a tie was weird, and actually felt more like a loss.
"At the end of the day, we didn't get the W," Sewell said.