Three halftime thoughts from Lions-Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- Some thoughts from the first half of the Detroit Lions-Pittsburgh Steelers game, which the Lions lead 27-20 at halftime.

Record setter: After a rough start, Matthew Stafford turned into the player he’s been most of the season in the second quarter, hitting Calvin Johnson for two touchdowns and also setting the franchise record for career passing yards. Stafford is 16-of-29 for 327 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half. The first-half yardage is the best first-half output of his career and a Lions first-half passing record. He also figured out pretty quickly that Pittsburgh was leaving Johnson in single coverage, so he picked on Ike Taylor for six catches and 179 yards in the first half. Smart move by Stafford. He used it again on the final Detroit drive of the half, when Johnson drew two penalties on Taylor.

Secondary struggled early but rebounded: Louis Delmas, who has been pretty reliable throughout most of the season, had some issues in the first quarter. He was burnt on one Antonio Brown touchdown when he missed the jam off the line of scrimmage. On Brown’s other touchdown, both Glover Quin and Chris Houston missed open-field tackles by trying to arm tackle the Pittsburgh receiver. The Lions' defensive backs did play better in the second quarter, including a very impressive pass breakup by Houston on Brown on the Steelers’ second-to-last drive of the first half.

This team is explosive: With 10:34 left in the first half, a Shaun Suisham field goal gave Pittsburgh a 17-3 lead. After that, the Lions' offense went nuts -- scoring three touchdowns in the last 10:27, starting with a 79-yard Stafford-to-Johnson touchdown to give the Lions a 27-20 lead at halftime. The explosive nature of what the Lions can do offensively is why they are considered a playoff contender and a threat in the NFC North and the NFC in general. The 27 points in the second quarter tied a record for the most points in a second quarter in Lions history.