DETROIT (AP) — A break in the schedule gave Detroit’s beleaguered offensive line a chance to rest and recover.Now comes one of the season’s biggest challenges — a matchup with the sack-happy Pittsburgh Steelers.“There’s no one guy to really clue in on. They’ve got quite a few [url=http://www.seahawksfootballauthentics.com/phil-haynes-jersey-authentic]http://www.seahawksfootballauthentics.com/phil-haynes-jersey-authentic[/url] ,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said.“Their guys off the edge do a great job. Their guys in the middle push the pocket well, and they’re covering guys down in the back end. It goes hand in hand.”The AFC North-leading Steelers are tied for second in the NFL with 24 sacks, so Sunday night’s game will be quite a test for Stafford and the Lions. Detroit has allowed 17 sacks in its past three games, two of which were losses, and it remains to be seen how much last week’s open date helped the Lions refresh.Detroit added offensive linemen T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner in the offseason, but Lang missed the team’s most recent game at New Orleans on Oct. 15 with a back injury. Tackle Taylor Decker hasn’t played yet this season following shoulder surgery, and Greg Robinson — another new addition — has had his struggles.Stafford has been knocked around of late, and now the Lions (3-3) have to face a Pittsburgh team that’s allowing only 147 yards passing a game, the lowest mark in the NFL.Perhaps the most impressive development in the Steelers’ pass rush has been their ability to be effective without sending extra pressure. Pittsburgh’s four fourth-quarter sacks against Cincinnati last week came when the Steelers just sent four men after Andy Dalton while dropping seven into coverage.“When those guys (up front) are hot, it makes it that much easier to play linebacker and defensive back,” Pittsburgh middle linebacker Ryan Shazier said.The Steelers (5-2) have a comfortable two-game lead in their division [url=http://www.seahawksfootballauthentics.com/ugo-amadi-jersey-authentic]Ugo Amadi Jersey[/url] , and their impressive defense is complemented by the usual offensive standouts. Le’Veon Bell is second in the league in rushing, and Antonio Brown is the NFL leader in yards receiving.“He’s quick as you could possibly think a receiver should be,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He can make you miss. He can run away from you. I mean, he can do it all. So, yeah he’s going to challenge every single conceivable defensive technique that you can possibly place in front of him.”Here are a few more things to watch when the Lions host the Steelers:A CHANCE TO BE ELI-TEAfter Martavis Bryant’s social media outburst following Pittsburgh’s victory over Cincinnati, the talented but enigmatic wide receiver indicated he’ll be inactive this weekend. That should mean more opportunities for Eli Rogers and Justin Hunter. Rogers was benched earlier in the season after fumbling a punt against Chicago but returned to the lineup against the Bengals, catching his first pass since Week 2. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger described Rogers’ play of late as a “resurgence.” While Rogers works almost exclusively in the slot, the 6-foot-4 Hunter may have the best chance at taking over Bryant’s role as a downfield threat.RETURN THREATDetroit already had a dependable kicker coming into the season in Matt Prater, and now the Lions have a legitimately dangerous returner in rookie Jamal Agnew, who has taken two punts back for touchdowns already this season.TAKING IT AWAYDetroit got off to a 3-1 start in large part because of a plus-9 turnover differential. Since then, the Lions are minus-3 in that important statistic.Detroit turned the ball over five times in a loss to the Saints [url=http://www.clevelandbrownsteamonline.com/sione-takitaki-jersey]http://www.clevelandbrownsteamonline.com/sione-takitaki-jersey[/url] , although the Lions did have three takeaways of their own in that game, and their defense still has Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin’s attention.“I’ve been really impressed that they’re extremely opportunistic,” Tomlin said. “Passes get tipped in the NFL every weekend and oftentimes fall harmlessly to the ground, but boy, I think they’ve got nine interceptions. I think six of them are off of tipped passes, that’s not by circumstance.”THE OTHER KILLER B?The Steelers’ “Killer Bs” (Bell, Brown and Ben) better make way for another addition. Kicker Chris Boswell set a Heinz Field record by making five field goals against Cincinnati, and his reliability has helped Pittsburgh overcome some shaky performances inside the red zone.The Steelers are 30th in red zone touchdown percentage, with only 42 percent of their trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line resulting in a TD.IN A RUTDetroit DE Ziggy Ansah had three sacks in a win over the New York Giants in Week 2, but he has only one since.“Just give him time,” Caldwell said. “He’s a tough guy [url=http://www.clevelandbrownsteamonline.com/sheldrick-redwine-jersey]Sheldrick Redwine Jersey[/url] , and does a nice job at what he does. Let’s see where he ends up.”—— Boston’s big hitters have consistently done the job this year, helping the Red Sox post the best record in the majors.
It’s been a very different story for the Washington Nationals, and that’s been abundantly clear through the first two games of their interleague series.
Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer during a six-run fifth inning, J.D. Martinez and Eduardo Nunez also went deep, and Boston beat Washington 11-4 in sweltering conditions Tuesday.
”A lot of guys stepped up,” Bogaerts said. ”The weather’s not the best. It’s hot. It’s better than cold. A lot of guys swung at good pitches and had good at-bats.”
Martinez drove in four and leads the majors with 26 homers and 71 RBIs. Boston has won 17 of its last 19 interleague games, including 11 of its last 12.
Washington has lost four straight and 16 of 21 to fall to 42-42, its first time at .500 since it was 17-17.
”It’s hard to play from behind,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. ”Our starting pitching right now is not giving the offense a chance. When we do try and make a run and come back, we got to have shutout innings. It’s not happening.”
Red Sox starter Brian Johnson allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings. Brandon Workman (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh.
Boston scored first, opening the second with consecutive singles before Nunez homered into the left field bullpen off starter Tanner Roark (3-10). Mark Reynolds and Roark had RBI singles in the fourth to pull the Nationals within 3-2.
The Red Sox responded in the fifth [url=http://www.authenticsatlantafalcons.com/cheap-kaleb-mcgary-jersey]Kaleb McGary Jersey[/url] , collecting five consecutive singles before Bogaerts ripped Roark’s fastball to center to make it 9-2.
”We did a good job today against Roark,” Nunez said. ”I think he made a lot of mistakes up with the sinker and we took advantage.”
Brian Goodwin and Pedro Severino hit solo homers for Washington.
Roark allowed a career-high nine runs in seven innings and is 1-8 with a 5.19 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts) since May 5.
”Other than two pitches I feel like they just base hit me to death, so what are you going to do?” Roark said.
Red Sox: 1B Mitch Moreland left in the third inning with back spasms and is day to day. ”I wasn’t planning on playing him tomorrow, so definitely he won’t play tomorrow now,” manager Alex Cora said. … LHP Drew Pomeranz (biceps tendinitis) allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings Monday for Triple-A Pawtucket in his first rehab appearance since Boston placed him on the disabled list June 5. … 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) is likely to remain in New York all week for further testing.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (shoulder inflammation) threw about 60 pitches Tuesday. Martinez said Strasburg’s next step could be a simulated game sometime this weekend. … Martinez said 1B Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) could begin a rehab assignment this weekend. Zimmerman has not played since May 9.
ROSTER MOVE COMING
Cora said Boston will activate RHP Tyler Thornburg (shoulder surgery) on Wednesday. Thornburg was acquired from Milwaukee in December 2016 but has not pitched in the majors since. The Red Sox intend to send RHP William Cuevas to the minors. Cuevas allowed a run in two innings Tuesday in his first appearance with Boston this season.
NATS SIGN TOP PICK
Washington signed first-round pick Mason Denaburg on Tuesday. The right-hander was selected No. 27 overall out of Merritt Island High School in Florida in last month’s draft.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-3, 4.11 ERA) faces Washington for the first time as the three-game interleague series concludes.
Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (1-3, 6.00) is coming off his first career victory and gets the nod for Washington’s annual Independence Day morning start.