Draft picks help Lions rally past Steelers in preseason opener

Posted at 10:48 PM, Aug 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-12 22:48:20-04
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A pair of draft picks helped the Detroit Lions defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17 Friday.
Chris Boswell briefly put Pittsburgh in front with a 37-yard field goal, but Dwayne Washington, the Lions' seventh-round pick, gave Detroit the lead for good with a 96-yard kickoff return.
Quarterback Jake Rudock, the Lions' sixth-round pick, later led an 11-play, 74-yard scoring drive. Rudock, who finished 8 of 11 for 72 yards and a score, hit Jace Billingsley with a 27-yard touchdown on third-and-9.
The Steelers sat Ben Roethlisberger, running backs Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, wide receivers Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, and center Maurkice Pouncey. First-round pick cornerback Artie Burns missed the game with a nagging thigh injury, while linebackers Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones -- former first-round picks -- also sat out.
Detroit's Matthew Stafford went 4 of 6 for 58 yards in his only series. Stafford converted three third downs -- one a 30-yard pickup to the newly acquired Anquan Boldin -- before James Harrison's sack and forced fumble halted the drive.
Lions tight end Eric Ebron, who suffered an undisclosed injury to his lower right leg last week, was in street clothes. Cornerback Darius Slay missed Wednesday's practice and sat out Friday's game. Starting running back Ameer Abdullah and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were also out.
Doran Grant opened the scoring when he picked off Dan Orlovsky's throw and returned the interception 39 yards. Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey made it 14-3 in the second quarter when he hauled in a 29-yarder in the corner of the end zone from Landry Jones.
Jones finished 6 of 12 for 55 yards and a score.
Andre Roberts scored on a 28-yard pass from Orlovsky before the two-minute warning. Orlovsky finished 16 of 25 for 164 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Lions: First-round pick Taylor Decker struggled in his preseason debut. Decker committed a holding penalty on third-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 17 and was beaten on the next snap by Harrison, which resulted in the sack and forced fumble recovered by the Steelers.
Steelers: Second-round pick Sean Davis settled in after a shaky start. Davis, a safety out of Maryland, was elevated to first-team slot cornerback when Senquez Golson suffered a Lisfranc mid-foot injury. He missed a tackle during the opening drive that led to a 30-yard gain and later committed a 15-yard penalty, but he also snuffed out a screen pass in the red zone that ultimately forces Detroit to settle for a field goal. Davis started the second half at safety.
Lions: Rafael Bush started at strong safety and is the front-runner for the starting job next to Glover Quin. Bush played just one game last season for New Orleans, suffering a torn pectoral muscle. Tavon Wilson, a backup in New England, and Isaiah Johnson, who played six games last season, are also in the mix.
Steelers: Alejandro Villanueva got the start and played two series in his battle with Ryan Harris at left tackle. Villanueva was called for a 10-yard penalty on third-and-3 during the first drive that ended in a punt. Devin Taylor beat Villanueva for a sack on the first play of the ensuing drive, which also ended with a punt. Harris, who has alternated with Villanueva, started all 19 games at left tackle for Denver last season.
Lions: Linebacker Zaviar Gooden suffered a head injury in the third quarter.
Steelers: Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski left at the end of the third quarter with a left hamstring injury. Safety Ross Ventrone (right hamstring) left in the first quarter, while lineman Brian Mihalik suffered a left knee injury.
Steelers' second-year wide receiver Sammie Coates has impressed during training camp practices, but he fumbled twice against the Lions. He bobbled a pass to start a second-quarter drive and fumbled two plays later, which led to a Lions field goal. Coates fumbled later in the game on an end-around.