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The Detroit Lions came into Sunday at 0-8, the last winless team in the NFL, but were headed to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers with Mason Rudolph getting the start after Ben Roethlisberger went on the COVID list earlier this weekend. If there were ever a spot for Detroit to get on the board with a win this season, this presented a great opportunity and, on a few occasions, it looked as though they would pull it off.
However, the game ultimately ended up going to overtime and in that overtime period, we bore witness to 10 of the worst minutes of football two teams could possibly play, providing us with a fitting, sloppy 16-16 tie that somehow managed to see the Lions avoid losing but also fail to win.
After the Lions punted on their first possession, all the Steelers needed was a field goal to win. They looked to be in business on a pass to Diontae Johnson, who got free and across the 40, but had the ball punched out by Detroit to suddenly put the Lions on a short field, needing just a field goal themselves for a win.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) November 14, 2021
Detroit was able to get well within the field goal range line, which only exists to provide false hope for fans, but Ryan Santoso, who had missed an extra point earlier in the contest, seemingly stubbed the kick and left a 48-yard attempt short.
The Lions were a field goal away from their first win this season… pic.twitter.com/kaJ5mpXVEE
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) November 14, 2021
The Steelers would go backwards on the ensuing drive and Rudolph tried desperately to give Detroit the ball back in plus territory, but the Lions refused to be such rude guests and kindly dropped an interception near midfield.
Detroit Lions football 2000-2021 pic.twitter.com/pM6OgPhI0t
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) November 14, 2021
After two more punts, the Steelers were backed up deep with 90 seconds to play and one timeout and seemed fairly content playing for a tie, throwing short underneath routes over the middle of the field and not exactly rushing to the line of scrimmage. However, Detroit rather shockingly called two timeouts after Steelers completions, presumingly to give them a chance for a win if they got a stop but also giving Pittsburgh, down to one timeout, the ability to march down the field by going over the middle.
The Steelers would get on the edge of field goal range in the closing seconds, but trying to squeeze a few more yards out to give Chris Boswell room proved disastrous with Pat Freiermuth caught a pass on the edge and, instead of just running out of bounds with Pittsburgh out of timeouts, turned up field in bounds and, compounding that error, fumbled to give Detroit the ball.
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2021
It is as poor of a decision as you’ll see in an NFL game from a player, because whether he fumbles or not, there’s a good chance Pittsburgh would’ve seen the clock roll off without getting a kick at the win because he didn’t go out of bounds. Detroit tried some hook and lateral magic, but came up well short of a touchdown on their final play and the game ended, fittingly, in a tie. That means the Lions can’t be the first team to go 0-17, but 0-16-1 is firmly in play and that might be funnier (with my apologies to Detroit fans).