One team regressed to the mean on Monday Night Football while the other showed flashes of being a playoff contender. The Steelers used a dominant first half en route to a 30-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
Roethlisberger is a gunslinger in every sense of the word. The veteran quarterback will evade pass rushers, pass up open reads and throw into triple coverage, sometimes all on the same possession. However, it’s tolerated because every now and then it leads to a big play. For the most part, Roethlisberger’s antics paid off against the Buccaneers. He threw for 353 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception despite having a non-existent running game. Even without Leveon Bell, the Steelers have enough weapons to put up 35 plus points per game as they did against Tampa Bay. But as always, it will be worth monitoring if Big Ben can avoid the costly turnovers and the unnecessary hits. As Roethlisberger showed on Monday, when he is under center, you take the good with the bad.
A week after getting shredded by first-year starter Patrick Mahomes, the Steelers secondary looked better against the Buccaneers. There wasn’t any personnel switch but a clear point of emphasis during the week had to be the importance of playing assignment football. Mahomes looked good against the Steelers, but a portion of his yards and touchdowns came against blown coverage (see Travis Kelce’s touchdown up the seam), where Steelers defensive backs were seen confused and pointing at each other at the end of plays. People will pick up the box score and see Fitzpatrick threw for three touchdowns and 400 plus yards. But he also threw three interceptions and the Buccaneers receivers made some great catches as well, including an over the shoulder catch by Mike Evans in double coverage and a Chris Godwin catch over the middle in between a cornerback and a safety. If you’re the Steelers, you can live with players making good plays if you’re in the right spots. The Steelers secondary was more active and engaged than they’ve been all season, an example of that is cornerback Artie Burns, hustling behind the play to force a fumble. When this team plays well on the back end, it allows them to get into their zone blitz schemes, which netted them a few sacks and countless third down stops in the first half. The Pittsburgh Steelers will go as far as their secondary takes them this year.
Buccaneers QB Dilemma
Jameis Winston will return from suspension this week but he may not see the field. Ryan Fitzpatrick has come into the starting lineup and provided a level of consistency to the Buccaneers offense. What you see is what you get with Fitzpatrick. He’s not as mobile as Winston but he will stay in the pocket and take a hit. The quarterback also knows where his bread is buttered. Winston has more physical tools, but Fitzpatrick makes up for his shortcomings with his decisiveness and trust in his eyes. Fitzpatrick doesn’t overthink the game, if Desean Jackson is open, Desean Jackson will get the ball, and the same goes for any of the other receivers. On the season, Fitzpatrick has thrown 11 touchdowns and four interceptions for the Buccaneers, who currently sit at 2-1.