ShareThis Page
Kevin Gorman

Kevin Gorman: Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster puts win over Lions on lock

Kevin Gorman
| Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, 2:00 a.m.


JuJu Smith-Schuster went from serving as a prop for the Steelers to stealing the spotlight on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Smith-Schuster made the play in the Steelers' 20-15 victory over the Lions at Ford Field and a subsequent touchdown celebration that showed he learned a lesson with his stolen-bike saga.

JuJu put this one on lock.

After serving as the bench for Le'Veon Bell's bench-press touchdown skit, the 20-year-old rookie receiver turned a third-down pass into a 97-yard touchdown and provided what proved to be the winning points.

Smith-Schuster even celebrated by wrapping a stationary bike in a chain.

“It was a huge opportunity, not only to show what I'm capable of doing,” Smith-Schuster said, “but to show the world what the Steelers are able to do. I felt like we did that.”

So ended a whirlwind week for Smith-Schuster, who made headlines with his hide-and-seek touchdown celebration against Cincinnati, his handling of Martavis Bryant's post-game criticism on social media and his beloved bike being stolen.

With Bryant benched by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Smith-Schuster started the game with a 41-yard catch on the opening play. He finished with seven receptions on 10 targets for 193 yards.

“He's not playing like a rookie,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “He's playing like a seasoned veteran, and it's fun to watch. Maybe he's too young and too silly and too fun to know any better, but I'll tell you what: We love him, and we just hope we keep getting great play from him.”

The greatest play came soon after the Steelers made a momentum-changing, goal-line stand by sacking Matthew Stafford on fourth-and-goal at the 1.

The Lions showed a defense with two safeties deployed high, a similar look to what the Steelers had seen earlier in the game. On that play, Smith-Schuster tried to juke the defender.

“I told him, ‘Listen, next time you get that look, beat 'em with speed.' He did that,” Roethlisberger said. “I told him I didn't know he had that much speed. He said he didn't know, either.”

Not only did it tie a club record for longest scoring play, it set one for longest catch in Steelers history.

After the game, Smith-Schuster tweeted the NFL Draft scouting report on himself: “Will struggle to separate from NFL CBS, not a deep threat, not a precise route runner.”

Tomlin called the 97-yard touchdown an “enormous play,” saying Smith-Schuster “did a nice job creating separation and making the throw easy for Ben.”

What impressed Roethlisberger most was not that Smith-Schuster outran three Lions but that he dwelled on a third-and-7 drop early in the fourth quarter.

“He had a great game — a Steeler record for longest pass play — and he was kind of beating himself up over a drop on third down late in the game,” Roethlisberger said. “To me, that was encouraging. He could've sat in there and said, ‘I had a great game. I had this big play. I made all these big plays.' But he's sitting there on the one he didn't make that potentially could've sealed it. ...

“For him to show that much maturity, be selfless and put the team first, that's what I like to see the most.”

The Steelers continue to marvel at the maturity of Smith-Schuster, a second-round pick from Southern Cal whose approach and attitude are a refreshing break from NFL diva receivers.

Tight end Xavier Grimble called him “genuinely a kid at heart. He's having a ball. You can tell he loves the team, loves to be here and just comes to work and works hard.” Added center Maurkice Pouncey: “We can't be more lucky to have a kid like that on our team.”

A kid who showed that no moment is too big and that he has some serious wheels.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me