| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Steelers notebook: Lions' success limits opposing offenses

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 4:18 p.m.

The Steelers have run the ball this poorly in their first nine games only once, in 1966. They have been outrushed by 420 yards — 1,145 to 725 — or nearly 47 yards per game.

Now, they go against a Lions defense that has yielded only 157 yards rushing its past three games. No opposing back has rushed for more than 45 yards against Detroit since Packers rookie Eddie Lacy ran for 99 yards on Oct. 6.

Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley credits the Lions' running game shutdown in part to … the offense.

“They averaging in the high 20s (26.4 points per game), and I think teams get behind the 8-ball a little bit and end up having to throw it to try to score points,” Haley said. “We've got to score points. They're not a team that you're going to expect to go out and score seven, 10, 13 points (against and win). They're a prolific offense with some big-time players and playing at a high level.”

Coverage complex

Now that he's a starter rather than the No. 3 receiver, Emmanuel Sanders is seeing more complex coverages from defenses, right? Wrong.

“In the slot, you've really got to know coverages because the coverages change and your routes change,” Sanders said. “As far as the outside, you don't have to pay as much attention to coverages because there's one guy you've got beat. (So there's) less coverage this year than last year.”

Added dimension

The Lions' offense centers around Calvin Johnson, arguably the best wide receiver in football, but running back Reggie Bush has gained 75 yards or more in three of his past four games, including 105 against Chicago and 92 against Dallas in his past two games.

“We have some explosive ability in our offense, and we lacked that last year,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “We were at the bottom of the NFL in explosive runs, and he's gone a long way to reversing that trend.”

Stadium game

The Lions are 0-8-1 in Pittsburgh since last winning here in 1955, a stretch that includes losses at four different stadiums: Forbes Field, Pitt Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium and Heinz Field.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  2. After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
  3. McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
  4. Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp
  5. Inside the Steelers: QB Jones continues to get majority of snaps
  6. 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
  7. Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
  8. Inside The Steelers: LB Williams dominates backs-on-backers drill at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
  9. Steelers notebook: Officials discuss new game ball procedures
  10. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  11. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel