Sunday Night wrap-up: JuJu Smith-Schuster has a breakout game

AP

Martavis Bryant is going to regret asking for a different role.

Because the way JuJu Smith-Schuster played in his absence, he may never get his old one back.

Smith-Schuster had a huge night in the Steelers’ 20-15 win over the Lions, and may have made Bryant’s role moot.

The rookie wide receiver finished with seven catches for 193 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown reception. Even without that one, he had six catches for 96 yards, which would have been a very good night for a secondary target.

But that kind of big-play potential is going to make the Steelers want to give the 20-year-old more chances.

That’s probably not what Bryant was looking for, after pouting about his lack of action. They made him inactive this week as punishment, and now it’s harder to argue why he should have more balls thrown his way. Given the way the Steelers have replaced wide receivers in the past (remember Mike Wallace?), it was a bad move by Bryant, poorly timed.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The Lions actually did a good job on the guys you want to do a good job against when playing the Steelers.

Le'Veon Bell did not run wild, and Antonio Brown did not blow the game open himself, as he’s capable of doing.

The Steelers’ star running back finished with 76 yards on 25 carries, and their star wide receiver had five catches for 70 yards.

Bell didn’t have a carry longer than 8 yards, while a 40-yard reception by Brown clouded the reality of his night. He had four catches for 30 yards on his other eight targets.

Lions cornerback Darius Slay did a very good job for most of the night (at least until his disastrous pass interference penalty late), for what it was worth.

2. There were bigger names on display Sunday, but few of them have been as consistently good at Lions safety Glover Quin.

He had an interception and a forced fumble in the first half, as he continues to find himself around the ball.

The pick was his 19th since joining the Lions in 2013, the most in the league over that span. And the fumble recovery in the second quarter was the sixth turnover he’s had his hands on in seven games.

That’s not bad for a 31-year-old safety, who is playing much better in the second half of his career than he did in the first (the four years he spent in Houston with just five interceptions).

3. The result worked out. But it’s becoming clear that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is capable of looking fairly ordinary.

The 97-yard touchdown obscured some relatively pedestrian numbers, as Roethlisberger finished 17-of-31 for 317 yards.

A line of 16-of-30 for 220 yards and an interception wouldn’t have drawn anything but criticism on another night.

4. The Lions have enough late comebacks, it seems harsh to quibble with their strategy.

But deciding to go for a fourth-and-goal from the 1 while down 13-12, and then kicking a field goal moments later when down 20-15 seems curious.

Perhaps Jim Caldwell and Jim Bob Cooter just wanted to keep within a touchdown, and not run the risk of the disappointment of being stoned twice in a row at the goal line.

But it also shows an alarming lack of confidence in an offense which is so good for most of the field.

5. The Eric Ebron Era in Detroit might be coming to a close.

The former No. 10 overall pick had an early drop, and was booed heartily by the home crowd, which is tired of waiting for him to deliver on his potential.

When the Lions were driving late in the first half, they threw into the end zone twice to tight end Darren Fells, while Ebron was sitting on the bench.

The Lions picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, but it’s guaranteed only for injury. If they passed him along to someone else by Tuesday’s trade deadline, it’s hard to imagine many Lions fans being broken-hearted.

The fact that the next three players chosen have blossomed into major stars (Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham Jr., and Aaron Donald) is just salt in the wound, as Ebron had 146 catches and eight touchdowns (entering the night) in his fourth season. He’s only caught more than one touchdown in one season (five in 2015), so perhaps someone will want to throw the Lions something to see if a change of scenery helps.

Perhaps his late grabs got the locals off his back, or perhaps it just polished up his value.

22 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: JuJu Smith-Schuster has a breakout game

  1. Might be an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl.

    Detroit, once again, is completely blowing it. And they have no excuses. This is one of those games where people can get canned. The play calling in the red zone was comical.

  2. Juju is the clear #2 now but I bet they still don’t trade Bryant. The depth at WR after the top 3 drops off considerably and injuries can happen. I think this is what they should have done with Blount, bench him and don’t give in and reward him with what he wants. There’s still half a season to go, maybe this game will open Bryant’s eyes and attitude a bit.

    Good win for Pittsburgh to top off a great 6-2 first half of the season, and a bye week next week to get healthy. I’m happy! All respect to the Lions and their fans today, good luck to y’all going forward.

    Go Steelers!

  3. I think DET started at the 11 after Ebron went OOB since the yellow 1st down line was across the 1 yard line.

    I too thought he made it to the 5 and quite honestly thought he could have fought to get closer or even to the end zone.

  4. In their best years, Detroit is just good enough to lose a winnable game against a good team.

    The Steelers look well balanced, loaded with talent, speed all over the field and yet they never seem to put up more than ~20 points.

  5. Uhhh… Hate to break it to you, but Pittsburgh is no longer a team to fear, If they make it to the playoffs.. and that’s a *BIG* if… then they are one and done.

  6. Love it that the Steelers got the win, but No.7 has not looked like the No.7 we’ve come to expect. Over-throws, under-throws, bad timing, bad decisions, not seeing wide-open recievers…and it’s been going on all season. This is starting to look like the new normal, unfortunately. I only hope there’s enough left in the tank to accomplish what they’ve set out to do.

  7. NBC has a chance to broadcast an epic moment and blew it – I really wanted to see Bryant’s face and reaction on Ju-Ju’s 97 yard TD catch and run…that could have been a priceless moment.

  8. ohnqlunchbox says:
    October 30, 2017 at 12:38 am
    Uhhh… Hate to break it to you, but Pittsburgh is no longer a team to fear, If they make it to the playoffs.. and that’s a *BIG* if… then they are one and done.

    4 12 Rate This
    —————-
    Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…… Hate to break it to you but that was a horribly weak attempt at being a troll. Nice try though. The Steelers have a 2.5 game lead in the division and are 1st in the AFC. So either you are a troll or someone who clearly isn’t paying attention.

  9. Dear JohnQLunchbox – “If” the Steelers get to the playoffs? Just to remind you, each division winner gets there & 9-10 wins guarantees the AFCNorth. Get a clue.

  10. Uhhh… Hate to break it to you, but Pittsburgh is no longer a team to fear, If they make it to the playoffs.. and that’s a *BIG* if… then they are one and done.

    ——————————————

    I can agree that the Steelers didn’t look that good. If not for the big play by Ju Ju Smith Shuster, they didn’t get anything going in the second half. A lot of missed throws. A few drops. But at the same time they are currently the #1 seed in the AFC and they are 3-0 in the AFC North. How is making the playoffs a big IF? Don’t etch it in stone, but I think you can go ahead and pencil them in there somewhere.

  11. The late-game comebacks are purely a result of Stafford taking the game into his hands. There’s no coaching skill involved.

    Caldwell and Cooter are spectators of those events, just like us. You’re seeing their coaching results during the first 3 quarters. FLOP.

  12. Martavis Bryant is going to regret asking for a different role.

    I doubt it. You have to be in touch with reality to regret anything.

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