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Winners and Losers from the Steelers' 26-20 win over the Lions

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Winners -

Ben Roethlisberger - Roethlisberger finished the night completing 8 of 10 passes for 137 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. It was easy work for Big Ben. And his two touchdowns went to rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth and both scores came in the red zone. On Roethlisberger's first touchdown pass to Freiermuth, he displayed his vintage pump fake and it faked out the cameraman. Roethlisberger also completed a 43-yard pass to Diontae Johnson, and his arm strength looked just fine. All in all, it was a great performance by Roethlisberger and he looks more than ready for the Week 1 game against the Bills.

Pat Freiermuth - As mentioned, Freiermuth had two touchdown grabs in the red zone, and quite honestly, he looks like the real deal. If not already, it should not take long before Freiermuth becomes TE1 over Eric Ebron. Freiermuth displayed great hands and body control on both of his touchdown receptions. It was Heath Miller-like.

Najee Harris - Harris played his first game at Heinz Field tonight and he showcased what's going to be featured this fall. His 46-yard catch-and-run was exactly what he displayed at Alabama when he was dominating in the SEC. It was the only play that stood out from Harris tonight, but it was a big one and it was a beauty.

Alex Highsmith - Highsmith had a great training camp and he dominated tonight, as he was constantly creating havoc and getting pressure on Lions' backup quarterback Tim Boyle. The Steelers will have quite a trio at outside linebacker this year with T.J. Watt, Highsmith and Melvin Ingram.

Melvin Ingram - Ingram also had a solid outing tonight and displayed his excellent run defense that Mike Tomlin raved about during training camp. Watch Ingram blow this play up in the backfield for a three-yard loss.

JuJu Smith-Schuster - Smith-Schuster finished the night with five receptions for 39 yards and 17 of those yards came on a nice catch-and-run where he broke a tackle on fourth-and-1. Smith-Schuster also delivered a crushing block on a Ballage run in the second quarter.

Kalen Ballage - While he didn't light up the stat sheet, I thought Ballage had a good game, as I continue to be impressed with how he runs the ball. He's a physical runner and consistently gets yardage after first contact. Ballage rushed for 30 yards on seven carries (4.3 average). He also had two receptions for 17 yards. I think Ballage will complement Harris really well as the No. 2 running back.

Mathew Sexton - Sexton might just land a spot on the 53-man roster. He had a 36-yard punt return in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys and tonight he had a 47-yard punt return that set the Steelers up at Detroit's 47-yard line.

Kendrick Green - I thought Green had a nice bounce-back game after a disappointing outing against the Eagles last week. Eagles' defensive tackle T.Y. McGill bull-rushed Green into Mason Rudolph for a sack, and it wasn't a good look. To add to that, at practice this week it was reported that nose tackle Tyson Alualu put Green on roller skates during 1-on-1 drills. Green held his ground tonight and he was delivering blows instead of receiving them. Watch Green deliver a pancake block that paved the way for a 6-yard run by Harris.

Losers -

Eric Ebron - Ebron's 59 yards receiving was a team-high tonight, but he was inconsistent. He had a drop on third down that would have gone for first down yardage, he got blown up on run block that resulted in a one-yard loss for Harris, and then he had a false start penalty.

Benny Snell Jr. - With strong performances from Ballage and Anthony McFarland Jr., and Snell not dressing due to an injury. He might just be on his way out of Pittsburgh.


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