Sunday Night Football: Three takeaways from Steelers' narrow win over Lions

The Steelers captured their third consecutive win Sunday night over the Lions to move to 6-2 and into a tie with the Patriots atop the AFC. 

Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster enjoyed a breakout game in the 20-15 win while Le’Veon Bell added a touchdown of his own, and Pittsburgh’s defense didn’t break despite nearly 500 yards of Lions offense and multiple trips to the red zone. 

Here are three takeaways from the Steelers’ win over the Lions. 

1. Matthew Stafford shreds Steelers’ secondary but has little to show for it — The Steelers entered Sunday night’s game allowing only 147 yards passing a game, the lowest in the NFL. Playing with a banged up Golden Tate (shoulder) and a makeshift offensive line, Stafford was able to put up big numbers through the air thanks to quick screens and short routes. Although he finished 27 of 45 for 423 yards, the Lions failed to score a touchdown despite seven trips inside the Steelers’ 30-yard line, as downs, turnovers or field goals ended their drives. 

2. JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t need a bike … when he’s got fast wheels like he displayed on a 97-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. The longest pass play in Steelers history and tied for the longest play from scrimmage in franchise history came just three plays after the Lions opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard-line but were stuffed on a quarterback run. 

Smith-Schuster, who saw extra snaps in wake of Martavis Bryant’s suspension, finished with seven catches for 193 yards and the long TD. Bryant, who questioned Smith-Schuster’s talent on Instagram, simply watched on the sideline as Smith-Schuster all but took away his spot in the offense. 

3. Steelers have chance to separate from AFC contenders. At 6-2 on the season, tied with the Patriots atop of the AFC and a half-game ahead of the Chiefs, Pittsburgh enters an interesting part of the schedule which may allow them to continue their winning streak beyond three games. Following their bye week, the Steelers have a date with the hapless Colts, followed by a Thursday night home game against the struggling Titans. Ten days later, on Nov. 26, is a home game against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. Looking ahead, a Dec. 17 home game against the Pats may decide home-field advantage in the playoffs. 

Sunday Night Football schedule

Week 9: Raiders at Dolphins, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

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