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Did you like the Steelers’ bumblebee uniforms last year? You’re in luck! They’re breaking them out again against the Lions this week.
Everybody loves NFL throwback uniforms, but some are more divisive than others. The Pittsburgh Steelers, for example, unveiled the beauties depicted above last season to commemorate the franchise’s 80th anniversary. They wore them in two games against the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens and, for better or worse, it was quite a sight to behold.
The Steelers are bringing the bumblebee uniforms back this season, too, though it will be for just one game — against the Detroit Lions this week. The uniforms allegedly date back to 1934, though there is no confirmation whether or not they were stolen from a prison chain gang.
Pittsburgh has won three of its past five after starting the season 0-4. It’s worth noting it also lost every game in the preseason.
The Steelers lead the all-time series with Detroit 15-14-1, but it’s been a tale of two runs. The Lions won the pre-Super Bowl era portion of the series 12-5-1. Keep in mind those Steelers teams had just six winning seasons between 1933 and 1971.
Pittsburgh has come up victorious in 10 of the past 12 meetings, which dates back to 1967. Detroit has not won in Pittsburgh since Nov. 13, 1955. That was the day Whoopi Goldberg was born.
Pittsburgh won the last meeting back in 2009. Detroit’s last win in the series was on Thanksgiving of 1998 when Charlie Batch outdueled Kordell Stewart in a 19-16 game stuffed with seven field goals.
These are not your father’s Steelers. They’re not even your older brother’s Steelers. They are legitimately 3-6, a year after they lost five of their last seven games.
The Steelers know they will see more of Calvin Johnson than they did the last time these teams met in Pittsburgh’s 28-20 victory Oct. 11, 2009. Johnson had only a two-yard reception before leaving with a right knee injury.
“Johnson needs no endorsement from me,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He is the best wide receiver in the game and one of the best football players period regardless of position in the game of professional football.
“He’s got over 900 yards receiving, he’s got nine touchdowns through nine games. You can talk about ways to minimize his impact on the game, people, coverages, all of that’s been done through nine games this year and he’s still at about 100 yards per game and a touchdown per game. Obviously we’re going to take our swing at it.”
The Lions should be wary of a Pittsburgh defense that is limiting opponents to 201.3 passing yards per game to tie for the league’s fourth-best mark. The Steelers held Buffalo to an opponent season-low 227 total yards in last Sunday’s 23-10 victory.
The Steelers won’t have rookie safety Shamarko Thomas, out with a high ankle sprain. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley’s status is uncertain due to a left calf injury.
Being short-handed would pose new challenges for Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, whose entire playing career between 1959-72 was with Detroit.
“They have a lot of different looks,” Stafford said. “Their coordinator is a great coordinator. Been a coordinator in this league for a long time and does a great job.”
The Steelers have shown signs of improvement with a running game that has topped 100 yards in three of their last four games. They still own the league’s sixth-worst rushing attack at 80.6 yards per game as they face a Detroit front that features defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley and has held its last three opponents to a combined 157 yards running and 2.5 per attempt. This could be a game Big ben needs to win through the air for the Steelers.
Roethlisberger’s 87.6 passer rating is his lowest in five seasons and he managed 204 yards passing against the Bills for his third-lowest total of the season. He has been sacked 35 times for the NFL’s second-highest total. A game that could go either way, but one that will be a huge challenge for the Steelers to win as well. If they lose though, it may be time to start prepping for the offseason, the draft and next year.