Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Predictions


Aug 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) throws the ball against the Washington Redskins during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in team history. The Bucs are trying to end that mark, along with their six-game losing streak dating back to last season.

They will trot out on to the field with Mike Glennon, the quarterback that Lovie Smith labeled as the future of the franchise, starting at quarterback today in place of the injured Josh McCown. This is a great opportunity for Glennon, who made his NFL debut in Week Three of the 2013 season. Right now, Buccaneer fans are seeing lots of parallels between this year and the last, with an 0-3 record and a completely inept offense. The only difference is that last season, the Bucs defense was at least keeping games close. That ended up being true for the first two games of this season against the Panthers and Rams (both of whom had backup quarterbacks starting). But last week against the Falcons was a nightmare. After surrendering 56 unanswered points to Matt Ryan and company, the Bucs finally put a couple of touchdowns on the board in garbage time. It was a total debacle.

With that being said, the Buccaneers have had 10 days to prepare for this game, and this will be a test of Lovie Smith’s coaching abilities. How will he motivate his players to continue after taking that beating in Atlanta? How will he be able to shuffle his lineup around to deal with the variety of injuries the Bucs have suffered up to this point? And finally, what adjustments will he make to his now infamous Tampa 2 defense that has surrendered 92 points through three games?

That’s a good place to start talking about what the gameplan might look like this week on defense. Gerald McCoy, who was out with a broken hand for Thursday night’s meltdown, is being listed as “probable” for this week’s game and will most likely give it a go. That’s music to everyone’s ears, as he is the guy that makes this defense go. The Steelers know that too, so expect McCoy to take on double teams for most of the afternoon.

Tampa Bay is going to need pressure on the outside, so the ends are going to have to win their one-on-one battles when they get the chance. The problem is that the Buccaneers could be going with William Gholston and Da’Quan Bowers at the end spots for most of the night. That doesn’t bode well for the Bucs, who need pressure on Ben Roethlisberger to make their pass defense work. No pressure means that he’ll have all day to sit back and pick apart that zone defense. One guy who can help the cause is Clinton McDonald. The veteran tackle has played admirably in the absence of McCoy, and will enjoy his linemate being back in the lineup this week, as it should allow him to have more success in getting off of his blocks.

Mason Foster, Tampa Bay’s starting middle linebacker, will be out another week, meaning Dane Fletcher will get the start at that spot once again. Fletcher has played decently in Foster’s absence, showing up and making a few big plays here and there. But there are also times where it seems like he goes missing. Hopefully his play will improve after another week of practice with the first team.

Now to the offense, where we already know that Mike Glennon will be getting the start. It also looks like Doug Martin will return to the starting lineup after suffering a knee injury in Week One. On the season, Martin only has nine yards on nine carries (all vs Rams), but after watching Bobby Rainey struggle as much as he did against the Falcons, the Muscle Hamster’s return is a welcome one. He will have to return to form today if the Buccaneers want to even sniff victory.

Speaking of returns, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the rookie tight end that the Buccaneers have had so much hope for, will return after suffering an ankle injury against the Rams. ASJ is a huge target with a little bit of speed over the middle, and that’s something that the Buccaneers have been missing on offense through three weeks. If he slips through the cracks and makes some big plays against any team, it just could be this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Louis Murphy, who was signed once again by the team after being cut, has taken over Chris Owusu’s roster spot. If he’s activated, that will add more speed over the middle that the Bucs are in dire need of.


The Pittsburgh Steelers are historically a running football team, but they might just light it up in the passing game today. I’m not sure the Buccaneers will be able to get to Ben Roethlisberger too much in the football game, and even when they do, Big Ben likes to scramble outside to extend the play until he finds the hole in the zone.

To keep Tampa guessing, they will still run the ball with Le’Veon Bell. and former Buccaneer, LeGarrette Blount. Blount is a bruising tailback who would love to get some revenge on his former team, and Bell is the main attraction in their backfield that will be used early and often.

It is going to be tough sledding on the road in Pittsburgh, but with that being said, I think the Buccaneers will play the best game they have played this season. Not only are they motivated to show everyone that last week was a fluke, but they are desperate to cling to hopes of a successful 2014. With McCoy and other big time pieces to this team back into the fold, and the extra time they’ve had to prepare, I’m going to go against the grain and say the Buccaneers will walk out of Heinz Field with their first victory of the season, and their first win in Pittsburgh in franchise history.

This is where we find out what Lovie Smith is made of, and if the conservative football will continue after being punched in the mouth three games in a row.

Final Score: Buccaneers 24, Steelers 20.