If you looked at the schedule before this Monday Night match-up, you’d think the Steelers would be the undefeated squad coming into this contest. That is not the case however as we have the (0-1-1) Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the undefeated (2-0) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The two teams have both been playing this season shorthanded a key offensive player. For the Steelers it’s all-star running back Le’Veon Bell, and for the Bucs it’s former first overall pick and starting quarterback Jameis Winston. The two players filling the void are James Connor and Ryan Fitzpatrick, both of which are excelling in place of their “superiors”. Connor is in the top 5 for running backs, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is first in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns after 2 weeks. A Bucs win would keep them undefeated and first in their division atop the (2-1) Saints and Panthers, and the (1-2) Falcons. The Steelers in the meantime are facing last place if they lose as the Bengals and Ravens are (2-1) and the Browns are (1-1-1). Now without further adieu let’s get to the action.
Starting things off in the first half it looked as though the FitzMagic had died. The Bucs did score first as Fitzpatrick connected with Cameron Brate with a 4 yard touchdown pass and the 7-0 Tampa lead. Pittsburgh would respond quickly though as Ben Roethlisberger would connect with Vance McDonald for a whopping 75 yard score. McDonald would absolutely eliminate safety Chris Conte with a vicious stiff-arm and take it in for the touchdown. The kicker would miss the convert however keeping the Bucs ahead 7-6, but the Steelers were far from done. The second quarter was definitely all Steelers right from the offset. First it would be Roethlisberger finding his favourite target Antonio Brown for the 27 yard catch and run touchdown giving the Steelers a 13-7 lead. Things would then get worse for the Bucs as Fitzpatrick would throw interception number 3 on the game and this one would go to the endzone. Alvin Dupree would capitalise on the mistake making it 20-7 Steelers. Chris Boswell would add a 56 yard field goal to further boost the lead to 23-7. The Bucs would finally get back on the board with a 28 yard field goal from Chandler Catanzaro cutting the deficit to 23-10. The Steelers would get it right back though, and then some. Big Ben would find Ryan Switzer at the corner of the endzone for the 4 yard strike and the 30-10 lead at the half.
Tampa was able to cut the deficit only slightly in the third quarter as Catanzaro would blast home a chip shot making this a 30-13 game after the third quarter. A notable thing in the quarter that did happen was Boswell missed a field goal of his own which would have made the third quarter a wash. The Bucs would then cut the lead even more with a 4 yard lob from Fitzpatrick to Chris Godwin making this a 10 point game at 30-20. Tampa nearly pulled within a field goal of the tie as DeSean Jackson took a punt return 83 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately it was nullified by a holding call, keeping the deficit 10 points. Hold on to your butts though as the Bucs would score a touchdown despite the penalty on the return. FitzMagic would re-emerge as he connected with Mike Evans for a 24 yard touchdown, making it a 30-27 game. That is as close as the comeback would come as the defence was unable to stop the Steelers from getting first downs and running the clock out. This will pose an interesting dilemma for Tampa as Winston will be able to play in their next game, but Fitzpatrick has played so well the 3 games he’s gotten.
The Stats of the game are as follows. Ben Roethlisberger had a good showing going 30/38 for 353 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Ryan Fitzpatrick had an abysmal start but he recovered very nicely at the end going 30/50 for 411 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. James Connor came through clutch in the second half as he totalled 61 yards on 15 carries. Bucs Peyton Barber had a less than stellar game just managing 33 yards on 8 carries. The Steelers had 2 100+ yard receivers in Vance McDonald (112+1 touchdown) and Juju Smith-Schuster (116). DeSean Jackson wasn’t much of a factor this game, but Mike Evans was as he caught 6 passes for 137 yards and 1 touchdown. Chris Boswell was 50% on field goals going 1/2 on the night. Tampa’s Chandler Catanzaro was a perfect 2/2 on the night, possibly fixing the Bucs recent kicker woes.
Next up on the NFL calendar is Thursday Night Football between the undefeated Los Angeles Rams, and the recently humiliated Minnesota Vikings. The Next Monday Night Football match-up features the Undefeated Kanasa City Chiefs against division rivals the Denver Broncos. Recaps for both games will be available here on FandomWire.