Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was part of two stories leading into Sunday night’s game against the Lions, but neither was focused on his on-field play.
By the end of the game against the Lions, though, neither Martavis Bryant‘s social media comments nor Smith-Schuster’s stolen bike was the first thing that came to mind. It was the rookie’s 97-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter that everyone was talking about.
It was the longest touchdown catch in Steelers history and came against a look that the Steelers had seen before from the Detroit defense. Ben Roethlisberger told Smith-Schuster to alter his route and everything worked like a charm.
“I told him, I said, ‘Listen, next time you get that look, if it’s a 22-type man, beat ’em with speed. Just get down there,'” Roethlisberger said, via ESPN.com. “And that’s what he did. And I threw it over the top, and I told him, I didn’t know he had that much speed. He said he didn’t either.”
The play and Smith-Schuster’s overall night — seven catches for 193 yards — can give rise to lavish praise, which is just what the rookie got from running back Le'Veon Bell. Bell called the youngest player currently in the NFL the “best player ever under 21.”
That may be hyperbole, but it’s hard to blame someone from getting caught up in what the rookie did against the Lions.