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The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at the memorable Steelers vs. Buccaneers contests

BTSC takes a look back at the series history between the Steelers and Buccaneers

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Steelers and Buccaneers do not have a rich history, but they have had some dandies over the years. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 9-2, and it took Tampa 22 years to get their first victory over the Men of Steel. The Rooney Family’s team has won five of the last six matchups between the two franchises.

October 30, 1983 - Steelers 17, Buccaneers 12

Man, the Steelers turned the ball over a lot back in the day. Even in the glory years. Although 1983 wasn’t the 70s, the Steelers still had carryovers from the Super Bowl years and did score a good bit of points. But not on this day as the football was Kryptonite for the Men of Steel and they dropped it like it was hot against their 0-9 visitors from the Bay of Tampa. With seven turnovers that included three interceptions thrown by future Birmingham Stallion Cliff Stoudt, the Steelers nearly suffered the ultimate embarrassment. But the defense kept the Steelers in the game by limiting the Buccaneers to four Bill Capece field goals. The boo birds were out with authority when Cliff Stoudt threw an incompletion on 4th and Goal on the nine to turn the ball back over to Tampa. With 8:42 left in the game, Pittsburgh finally got on the board by way of the air and an 11-yard pass from Stoudt to Wayne Capers. It was the rookie out of Kansas’ first career TD. Because of a 57-yard punt return by rookie Paul Skansi, the home team cut it to two with a 42-yard Gary Anderson field goal. On the next series, Tampa Bay’s James Wilder (126 yards) broke Franco’s record for most caries in a game with 42 carries, with the winless visitors having a chance to shock the world and ice the game. With 3:42 remaining it looked like it would happen, but Kevin House dropped two consecutive deep passes in which he beat Dwayne Woodruff both instances. The Steelers got the ball back and Stoudt rallied the offense down the field with a key completion to Skansi and runs by Franco Harris and Frank Pollard. Pollard’s 2-yard blast, with Franco leading the way, proved to be the game winner with just :31 seconds left. Three Rivers erupted in a celebration of delight and relief as the Steelers raised their record to 7-2 with their fifth win in a row.

December 24, 1989 - Steelers 31, Buccaneers 23

After losing their first two games of the season by a combined score of 92-10 to Cleveland and Cincinnati, nobody in their right mind thought that the Steelers would end up in the playoffs. The Steelers needed a Christmas Eve miracle of the Raiders losing to the Giants, the Colts to falling to the Saints and the Bengals dropping one to Minnesota on Christmas Night. The scenario also included the black and gold traveling to frigid Tampa and taking care of business themselves. Rod Woodson was All-Planet on the afternoon and he got everything going with a 72-yard kickoff return allowing rookie Tim Worley (18 carries for 51 yards and 2 TDs) to score on a one-yard bulldoze from the one. Mark Carrier matched it with a catch for six from veteran QB Joe Ferguson. Bubby Brister had a difficult time of it in this game, getting intercepted twice and only completing seven passes. Two of them, however, were long touchdown passes to Louis Lipps. The first one with 13:54 left in the half was a home run for 79 yards. The next one came after two Brister interceptions while he was looking for Lipps in all the wrong places to Bobby Futrell that set up a Donald Igwebuike field goal and another theft perpetrated by Ricky Reynolds. The black and gold got a break when Tyronne Stowe blocked a Buccaneer punt and the Steelers quarterback got retribution with a 12-yarder to No. 83 right before halftime. Pittsburgh’s playoff chances got better when news from New Orleans and New Jersey were somewhat favorable and Rod Woodson’s interception return of a Ferguson pass to the 18 allowed a Gary Anderson field goal with :03 left before intermission and a 24-10 lead.

In the second half, another Igwebuike field goal and Worley’s second TD run extended the lead to 31-13. The Steelers took off a lot of time on the ground with Worley knocking out 51 and Merrill Hoge going for 90. The Bucs furiously tried to get back in with another Carrier touchdown and a safety on a punt, but it was too late. Lipps (4 catches, 137 yards and 2 TDs) and Woodson were phenomenal and gave an early Christmas gift to Steeler Nation with the 31-19 win, but they still needed help. They got in when Indy, the L.A. Raiders and Cincinnati all lost to NFC teams to help Pittsburgh clinch a playoff berth, the final postseason run in Chuck Noll’s Hall of Fame career.

December 23, 2002 - Steelers 17, Buccaneers 7

September 26, 2010 - Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13

Even though there was no Ben Roethlisberger, who was serving a six-week suspension to start the season, the Steelers advanced to 3-0 unbeaten as Charlie Batch was absolute money, but it didn’t start that way with his 1st quarter interception to Aqib Talib made it possible for the 3-0 Bucs to take an early lead to match their record. Batch would then go deep to Mike Wallace for a 46-yard score, then, after another Tampa field goal by Connor Barth, Rashard Mendenhall (143 yards rushing) bullied his way into the end zone for a 14-6 advantage. Before the half, James Farrior’s hit of Mike Williams and Ryan Clark’s fumble recovery set up Batch to throw two more TD passes to Mike Wallace (41 yards) and Hines Ward (9 yards) before the half and a 28-6 lead. Fast forward to the fourth quarter, the Steelers had extended their lead on a Jeff Reed field goal and the Bucs’ Josh Freeman, at the 17 of Pittsburgh, is intercepted on a short pass by Brett Keisel. Da Beard rumbles 79 yards for the touchdown and the Steelers were running away, 38-6. A Batch interception gave Tampa good field position that they converted into a LaGarrette Blount touchdown. But the game was already in the bag and the Steelers left the Sunshine State with a well-balanced 38-13 victory.

September 28, 2014 - Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24

Having been signed earlier in the week, James Harrison made his return to Heinz Field and the Steelers lineup, but the underdog Buccaneers made their defensive presence known by sacking Ben Roethlisberger five times, including twice on the first drive that ended in a lost fumble by the Steeler quarterback. With the ball on the Steelers 9, Mike Glennon hooked up with the rookie Mike Evans for an immediate touchdown over Cortez Allen. After an exchange of field goals, two Ben to Antonio Brown scoring plays (11, 27) gave the Steelers a 17-10 advantage. It could have been more, but Shaun Suisham missed a field goal right before Halftime. The Bucs must have been inspired during the break by Lovie Smith, for they emerged from the locker room and put the ball in the end zone from 3 yards away with a Doug Martin score, with help from a 40-yard play from Glennon to Evans for the set up. The Steelers answered right away when Big Ben hooked up with Heath Miller to uneven the score again. Escaping damage from a Cortez Allen interception of Glennon, Tampa extended a third quarter drive into the fourth and came away with a field goal to narrow the score to 24-20. With the pigskin back and the Steelers with the lead, the black and gold could not get a first down to ice it. Having to punt with 40 seconds left on the clock, Brad Wing shanked it for merely a 29-yard kick. Glennon set up shop at the Steelers 46 and launched one 41 yards to Louis Murphy to get to the 5. The rhetoric that the Pittsburgh Steelers play down to their competition was painfully obvious after Mike Glennon slung a 5-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with :07 seconds remaining to help Lovie Smith get his first victory in pewter as Tampa Bay stunned Pittsburgh at Heinz Field for a 27-24 in Week 4. “We need to fix it,” Mike Tomlin told ESPN. “And if we don’t we’ll continue to lose close football games.”

September 24, 2018 - Steelers 30, Buccaneers 27

The Steelers at 0-1-1 and the 2-0 Buccaneers were heading entirely in different directions when they met on a Week 3 edition of Monday Night Football in Tampa, in a game in which Vance McDonald forever etched his name in Pittsburgh Steelers lore due to one play. But first the Steelers had to make up for a Ben Roethlisberger INT nabbed by Justin Evans that led to an early Cameron Brate touchdown reception from the sizzling-hot, veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. With a chance to answer, the Vanimal caught a short pass from Roethlisberger, turned up-field and delivered “the Stiff Arm from Hell” to Chris Conte, trucking 75-yards down the sideline to glory. The Bucs were threatening again, but an Anthony Chickillo sack on third down pushed them out of field goal range and a punt ensued that the Steelers converted into a Chris Boswell three. Then, the Buccaneers absolutely imploded. Mike Hilton recovered a Curtis Goodwin fumble setting the stage for an Antonio Brown TD to make the score 16-7. Then Hilton intercepted Fitzpatrick and then Terrell Edmunds intercepted Fitzpatrick and then Bud Dupree intercepted Fitzpatrick and returned it all the way for the score. Just like that, the scoreboard read 23-7 with 2:50 left until intermission. But Fitzpatrick summoned that magic and a big, 51-yard pass play to Mike Evans moved the Tampa Bay offense on the doorstep of making the cannons fire, but the Steelers’ defense held and forced a 21-yard field goal attempt that Chandler Catanzaro converted with only 1:15. Luckily for the Steelers, they had some magic of their own... Switz-magic. It took Ben Roethlisberger a mere 1:09 to march 75 yards and find Switzer on a pass play from the one. Boswell made the extra-point and the visitors enjoyed a 30-10 lead heading into halftime.

n the second half, the Buccaneers stalled in the red zone again, but they came away with only a chip shot from Catanzaro. The Steelers put together a long drive, but the “off” Boz missed a kick for three. Fitzpatrick would rally his red and pewter back and after touchdown strikes to Godwin and Evans, the Pittsburgh lead was only three, at 30-27 and it threatened to dwindle even more when the Jordan Berry was forced to punt giving the ball back to the Bucs with 3:10 left in regulation. The defense stiffened though with a three-and-out and the Steelers offense closed out with first downs via a Ben to JuJu Smith-Shuster pass and a James Conner rumble. The win gives the Steelers their first win of the season and highlight reel moments for Bud Dupree and Vance McDonald that they’ll never give back.