Lions collapse late, fall to Steelers 37-27

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 17, 2013 at 6:12 pm •  Published: November 17, 2013
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — His explosive offense sputtering, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz didn't give the ball to Matthew Stafford or Calvin Johnson or Reggie Bush.

Instead, Schwartz put it in the hands of a 205-pound rookie punter on a soggy field with 11 guys dressed up like swarming bees running at him.

The calculated risk led to an unmitigated disaster.

Sam Martin fumbled while trying to convert a fake field goal early in the fourth quarter and the Pittsburgh Steelers responded to the reprieve by scoring two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes to stun the ever erratic Lions 37-27 on Sunday.

"I don't regret anything that happens in the game," Schwartz said. "We're going to do our very best to win the football game. We didn't make enough plays to win this one, including that one."

The Lions were nursing a four-point lead when kicker David Akers ran out to attempt a 27-yard field goal. Martin took the snap then tried to find room over the right side for the 5 yards necessary for a first down. He didn't quite get there, and the ball came rolling out after Martin was slammed by Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon.

"I got hit by a 350-pound man," Martin said. "I don't think I had the first down, but regardless that guy made a great play. You have to give them credit. When you looked at it initially, it was a big hole."

Instead of getting a first down or going up by seven, the Lions gave the Steelers the ball with momentum. Pittsburgh responded with a 97-yard touchdown drive that helped keep Detroit (6-4) winless in the Steel City 58 years and counting.

Matthew Stafford passed for 362 yards and two touchdowns but also threw a late interception during a bumbling second half. Calvin Johnson added six receptions for 179 yards and both scores but didn't touch the ball once after halftime.

"I missed some guys," Stafford said. "We had drops. We had miscues. We had all sorts of stuff that we can't do on the road against a good team."

One that played like it against a contender for the first time this season.

Roethlisberger passed for 367 yards and four touchdowns. Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 147 yards and two scores and Pittsburgh's defense forced three turnovers while keeping Stafford in check over the final 30 minutes.

Stafford completed just 3 of 16 passes after halftime.

"We knew they'd make plays and get yards," Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark said. "We just wanted to make plays and stop them when it counted and we were able to do that."

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