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The Steelers defeated the Detroit Lions, 20-15, in the Motor City, Oct. 29, despite woeful red zone performances by both teams.

Pittsburgh and Detroit figuratively wore out several pairs of cleats traveling to the red zone but seemed to change to “Keds” sneakers when it came to getting into the end zone. The stats on both Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Lions quarterback Matt Stafford were sorta, kinda misleading.

There was a photo on msn.com with the caption: “Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, right, celebrates his third-quarter ‘touchdown pass’ against the Lions with Steelers teammates in Detroit.” Touchdown pass, huh? The box score from Sunday night’s game has Roethlisberger “officially” completing 17-31 passes for 317 yards with 1 TD and 1 pick. The so-called 97-yard touchdown pass was caught at about the 26 or 27 yard line and advanced by Steelers receiver Juju Smith-Schuster approximately 73 yards for a Steelers touchdown.

The play should have been recorded as a 26-yard pass to Smith-Schuster followed by a 73 YAC (yards after catch) run for a Pittsburgh score. Doesn’t that make more sense? Isn’t that more fair to the quarterback and the receiver?

Meanwhile, Detroit’s Stafford completed 27-45 passes for 423 yards and…no touchdowns? Stafford marched his troops up and down surrounding hills over and over but never got to the top of the mountain. The Steelers’ big nasty “D” was efficient as far as declawing the Lions goes, but the game should not have been that close. Big Ben again misfired on several crucial situations and there were a few critical drops by his receivers that would have kept the chains moving and would have also kept the Lions off the field and the scoreboard, while leaving Pittsburgh’s defense on the sideline.

During their upcoming bye week the Steelers would be wise to allow many of their “alternates,” (I don’t really like the term second-stringers) to be worked into the game plan as they prepare to face the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis (Nov. 12) after their week off. This would be the perfect time to see what a combination of Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant (remember him?), and Eli Rogers on offense could contribute as well as allowing a few youngsters on the defensive side of the ball like linebacker Anthony Chickillo and a few of his “bench buddies” to get a few snaps. After the game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin might have said it best. “Anytime that you get an opportunity to come from behind in a hostile environment and you get it done, you’re happy and excited about it. It’s a growth opportunity.” The game against the Colts may just well represent a growth opportunity as well.

Martavis, Martavis, where art thou? Why, he’s standing on the sideline with a big bright smile and a furrowed brow. Don’t become too haughty, Steeler nation. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Black and Gold are going to need the services of Monsieur Bryant before their 2017 season concludes. Bryant would be better served just to play and excel in any role that he is given and make sure that there will not be any negative breaking news concerning any of his actions.


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