Buccaneers Steal First Win in Pittsburgh, Defeat Steelers 27-24
By Nick John
Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate a game winning touchdown catch by wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Buccaneers won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
In my preview of this game, I said that I believed the Bucs would win, I just didn’t know how. The Steelers seemed to be the more impressive team on paper every way you looked at it.
Fortunately for the Bucs, today’s game wasn’t played on paper.
Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson (90) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay won the toss and had elected to defer until the second half. That decision by the team immediately paid dividends as Michael Johnson got a sack-strip-fumble recovery on the first series of the game to set the Buccaneers up with first and goal inside Pittsburgh’s 10 yard line. Shortly thereafter, Glennon found Mike Evans in the corner of the endzone for the score, making the game 7-0 Tampa Bay. Within the first five minutes of the game, they would extend that lead to 10-0.
After that first five minutes, it was all Steelers until the end of the half. Pittsburgh scored 17 points in a row to give them a halftime lead of 17-10, but missed a 50 yard field goal wide right to extend the lead at the end of the half. Antonio Brown had two touchdown catches up to that point and the game seemed to be under control for the Steel City. However, since the Bucs decided to defer at the start of the game, they would begin the second half with the ball, and only down 7 points.
Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) scores a touchdown past Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Sean Spence (51) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Buccaneers won the game, 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
The Buccaneers proceeded to put together and 80 yard drive to start the half, culminating in a 3 yard touchdown run by the returning Doug Martin, who finished the day with 40 yards rushing and that score.
Tight ends have historically given Buccaneer defenses fits. Today was no different, as Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller always seemed to come up with a big play when the Steelers needed it. He helped Pittsburgh answer right back to take the lead on an 80 yard drive of their own, finishing off with five yard catch from Miller in the endzone. The Steelers would take that 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the game’s final period, the Bucs found themselves in a fight and responded with a fire that we hadn’t seen all season thus far. Mike Glennon and the offense started putting together drives, and Lovie Smith’s defense was stepping up and making plays when they needed to.
Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Patrick Murray (7) kicks a field goal past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Buccaneers won the game, 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Glennon led the Buccaneers on an 83 yard drive that ended with a Patrick Murray field goal. Murray finished the day 2/2, with his longest coming from 50 yards out in the first quarter, even after being tipped at the line by the Steelers. That one had hit the upright and went through. The last one cut the Steelers lead to just four points. 24-20 Pittsburgh with 11:37 left in the game.
With under two minutes remaining in the game, the Bucs found themselves at the Steelers’ 14 yard line, but they couldn’t find a way to score. A couple of errant passes by Glennon helped contribute as Tampa Bay turned the ball over on downs. The Steelers took over, but the Bucs had two timeouts remaining. Pittsburgh was unable to get a first down to put the game away, and the Buccaneers had life.
An errant Pittsburgh punt gave the Buccaneers great field position, inside Steeler territory, with 40 seconds left and no timeouts remaining.
Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Louis Murphy (18) runs past Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen (28) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Buccaneers won the game, 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
That’s when Mike Glennon found Louis Murphy, a veteran wide receiver who was cut earlier this year, but brought back to the team this week, for a big gain that got the Bucs inside the Steelers’ 10 yard line. The Buccaneers spiked the ball to stop the clock with 15 seconds left. Murphy had an impressive game in his return, leading the team with six catches for 99 yards.
Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) catches a five yard game winning touchdown pass with seven seconds left against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Bucaneers won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
On second down, Glennon’s pass couldn’t find the mark intended for Vincent Jackson, but on the very next play, Glennon sought Jackson again and found him in the endzone for the game winning score with only seven seconds remaining in the game.
Jackson finished with 3 catches for 32 yards and that score, and Mike Glennon rode his 245 yard second half to a stat line of 21-for-42, 302 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. That turnover didn’t seem to be his fault, as Mike Evans had to pull up short on his route due to a groin injury, leaving the Steelers with an easy pick.
The Buccaneers are now 1-3 on the season, and will travel to New Orleans next week for an important division matchup.
Important Points from the Game:
- Mike Evans, before leaving the game with a groin injury, was the clear main target of the offense, and had his best game of his short pro career. Four catches, 65 yards and a score.
- Defensive line play was vastly improved. Michael Johnson finished with 2 sacks on the day, and Da’Quan Bowers made probably the best play of his NFL career thus far, using his strength to push back a Steelers tackle and take Ben Roethlisberger down for a sack using only one arm.
- Alterraun Verner struggled with Antonio Brown. He was dropping too deep into his zones, leaving Brown wide open. Verner did not have the closing speed to match.
- Glennon looked impressive in the second half. He took shots down the field, made quick decisions, and got the job done when the game was on the line. Regardless of McCown’s health, he should be starting at quarterback. That will show up on the tape.
- Lovie Smith gets his first win as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers get their first win in Pittsburgh in franchise history.