The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were ready to square off at Acrisure Stadium in Week 6, but so many different factors leading up to the game impacted the overall outlook on the game in Pittsburgh. The Steelers were without the majority of their starting secondary, including Minkah Fitzpatrick, and hope was minimal as Tom Brady came to town one more time in his historic career.
Pittsburgh won the opening coin toss, and elected to defer their possession to the second half. Brady and the Buccaneers went three-and-out on their opening drive, and Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense went to work.
Pickett moved the ball quickly into Tampa Bay territory, and thanks to a roughing the passer call on Devin White extended the drive into the red-zone. After a Jaylen Warren 4th and 1 conversion, Pickett found Najee Harris in the flat for the game’s first, and Pickett’s first, touchdown.
Chris Boswell’s extra point was good, giving the Steelers a 7-0 lead with 7:38 left in the quarter.
Everyone in attendance at Acrisure Stadium knew shutting out Tom Brady wasn’t realistic, and a combination of Leonard Fournette and quick passes moved the ball quickly into Pittsburgh territory. However, the Steelers’ defense stood tall in the red-zone and forced a Ryan Succop field goal to make the score 7-3 with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
After a Steelers three-and-out, Brady and the Bucs offense took over near midfield. A huge strike to Chris Godwin on 2nd and 15 set up the Buccaneers in the red-zone. Two more passes got the offense to a first and goal situation. Fournette was stopped just short on first down by Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi blew up the run on second down for a tackle for loss and Malik Reed and Cam Heyward sacked Brady on third down. It forced another Succop field goal to make the score 7-6 with 11:01 left in the half.
Pickett and the Steelers’ offense needed an answer, and they were able to get it by moving the ball into Tampa Bay territory. However, the drive was stalled with a Kevin Dotson holding call, and resulted in a 55-yard Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 10-7 with 4:07 left in the half.
The Steelers defense forced a three-and-out, getting Pickett and the offense back on the field with 2:52 left in the first half. With a chance to extend the lead, Pickett and the offense couldn’t muster a first down before giving Brady the ball back before the two-minute warning. Brady and the offense couldn’t do anything with the ball before punting the ball back to Pittsburgh.
The three-and-out party continued with the Steelers doing very little on offense with their next drive. Brady and the Bucs took over at the 49-yard line with 23 seconds left and no timeouts. A huge strike to Godwin put the Bucs in field goal range. Succop’s 54-yard field goal was good, making the score 10-9 heading into halftime.
Steven Sims took the opening kickoff of the second half 90 yards, setting up the offense for success.
But the offense was unable to convert on 3rd and 4 and had to settle for another Boswell field goal, making the score 13-9.
The Buccaneers’ offensive game plan remained the same, and so did the result. While Brady and the Bucs were able to move the ball in between the 20s, when they hit the red-zone the Steelers’ defense stood tall. The latest red-zone failure equated in a 24-yard Ryan Succop chip shot field goal to make the score 13-12, in favor of the Steelers, with 7:24 left in the third quarter.
The Steelers’ next drive saw a lot happen. Kenny Pickett hit Diontae Johnson for a completion down the field, but he was hit as he threw and was knocked from the game. To make matters worse, Kevin Dotson was called for holding, negating the play. Mitch Trubisky entered the game and was able to convert on 3rd down before the Steelers had to punt the ball back to Tampa Bay.
Whether it was sub-par offense, or outstanding defense, the two teams exchanged three-and-outs until the fourth quarter when Trubisky and the Steelers offense woke up. Trubisky hit George Pickens on a 3rd and 14 conversion, and then connected with Connor Heyward for a huge play to get the offense into the red-zone.
On the second down play, Trubisky hit Chase Claypool for the touchdown, the first touchdown by a wide receiver on the season.
CHASE CLAYPOOL TOUCHDOWN ALERT pic.twitter.com/A0wW6kXBAr— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) October 16, 2022
Chris Boswell’s extra point was good, making the score 20-12 with 9:48 left in the 4th quarter.
Brady and the Bucs’ offense moved methodically down the field on their next drive, converting on two huge 4th and short plays to get into the red-zone. Once they got there, a swing pass to Leonard Fournette put Tampa Bay in the end-zone for the first time on the day. Still trailing by two, the Buccaneers went for the conversion, and Devin Bush got a hand on the pass intended for Chris Godwin, keeping the score 20-18 with 4:38 left in regulation.
Trubisky remained in the game with Pickett out with a concussion, and it was the veteran who bailed out questionable calls by the offense coordinator with huge third down conversions to Chase Claypool on two occasions. At the two-minute warning, the Buccaneers had used two of their three timeouts. On 2nd and 1, Trubisky completed the quarterback sneak for the first down. The Buccaneers had to use their last timeout, and were unable to stop the clock.
The final score was 20-18, and the Steelers win moved their record to 2-4, snapping their four-game losing streak. The team now prepares for a Sunday Night Football game in Week 7 vs. the Miami Dolphins in South Beach.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the 2022 regular season.