This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Steelers and the Buccaneers in their week two primetime match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers 0-1-1 at Tampa Bay 2-0
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
When: 815pm Monday September, 24th 2018
Weather: Partly Cloudy and low 80’s at gametime
Line: Steelers -1
Last Week: The Steelers fell behind 21-0 before tying the game at halftime only to lose to the Chiefs 42-37. The Bucs moved to 2-0 on the season with a 27-21 win over the Eagles.
TV: Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland and Lisa Salters on the sidelines.
TV Coverage in Your Area: National TV Audience on ESPN
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Tony Morelli
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: S Morgan Burnett (Groin) – Doubtful, G David DeCastro (Hand) – Doubtful, OT Marcus Gilbert (Hamstring) – Doubtful TB: CB Marcus Williams (Hamstring) – Out, S Chris Conte (Knee) – Questionable, CB Brent Grimes (Groin) – Questionable, DT Vita Vea (Calf) – Out, DT Beau Allen (Foot) – Out
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 2nd, TB 1st Passing Offense: PIT 2nd, TB 1st Rushing Offense: PIT 20th, TB 27th
Total Defense: PIT 25th, TB 31st Passing Defense: PIT 14th, TB 31st Rushing Defense: PIT 30th, TB 2nd
AFC North Rankings: Cincinnati 2-0, Baltimore 1-1, Cleveland 1-1-1, Pittsburgh 0-1-1
This Week: NYJ at Cleveland (Thurs), Denver at Baltimore, Bengals at Panthers
What You Need to Know: The Steelers have the third best record all-time on Monday Night Football going 45-24… What Steelers’ QB threw for the most yards on Monday Night? Mark Malone had 374 in a 1985 loss to the Bengals… Ben Roethlisberger is 13-3 all-time on Monday night. All three losses have come on the road… Mike Tomlin is 29-15 all-time against NFC teams… Big Ben is 35-16 all-time vs NFC Opponents.
What’s at Stake: I really hate the term “must-win game” because in my mind every game is worth winning. That said, a win for the Steelers is more important from a mental standpoint than even one in the standings. The Bengals can move to 3-0 but the Steelers still have them twice. This game is about righting the ship mentally and in the locker room as much as anything else.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 8-2 and lead all-time in Tampa 5-1
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 314 yards 9/28/2014, Buccaneers Mike Glennon 302 yards 9/28/2014 RUSHING: Steelers Jerome Bettis 143 yards10/21/2001/Rashard Mendenhall 143 yards 9/26/2010, Buccaneers James Wilder 126 yards 10/30/1983 RECEIVING: Steelers Louis Lipps 137 yards 12/24/1989, Buccaneers Keyshawn Johnson 159 yards 10/21/2001
Last Meeting: Sept. 28, 2014, in Pittsburgh Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Get it Right in the Secondary. Last week was the same song we’ve heard for the last several years. “We had some communication problems” and “maybe the defense was too sophisticated” were comments from players that we’ve heard before. After giving up six touchdown pass and forcing just five incompletions from Patrick Mahomes, the Steelers now face Ryan Fitzpatrick and a high-powered Bucs’ offense. As of this writing, Coty Sensabaugh got first team practice reps and could get the start in front of Artie Burns. That in my opinion is bad news even if Burns has struggled. But bigger than that, this unit needs to get its’ poop in a pile. If they can’t get in the right positions and make the right calls then we’re in for a repeat of last week.
Give Me More Muddle Huddle. Do you find yourself asking why the Steelers don’t use more no-huddle on offense? Join the club. Part of the reason they don’t use it more often is because Mike Tomlin is protecting his defense. Personally I believe this to be hogwash. I’m not talking about a hurry-up offense. I’m talking about the ‘muddle huddle’ where the Steelers immediately go to the line of scrimmage in an effort to keep the defense from subbing. There is no hurry here. Ben Roethlisberger surveys the defense, makes the appropriate checks and gets his guys in the best possible positions for success. Time-wise this shouldn’t be any faster than a traditional huddle, they just do it at the line. The Bucs are not good against the pass and keeping them from subbing in and out should only enhance their issues there.
Straighten Out the Kicking Game. As I mentioned earlier in the week, nobody was happier about the attention paid to Antonio Brown than Chris Boswell. Boswell has already missed two field goals and an extra point and while that’s bad, it’s worse because he’s got the rich, new contract now and one wonders if the pressure of that hasn’t been a factor. But Boswell getting himself right isn’t the only issue. Jordan Berry endured two challengers this week and will punt on Monday night. He has to find consistency though. It’s one thing to drop punts inside the twenty, it’s another to be able to hit big kicks and get the field flipped in your favor. Berry doesn’t do this much at all and it’s high time he start or he’ll be looking for work elsewhere.
Predictions: Everything is pointing to another disappointing loss for the Steelers. The right side of the line is likely out. The secondary is a mess and facing the top QB in the league and who knows what the mental makeup of Antonio Brown is right now? All that said, I think the Steelers find a way to get out of Florida with a victory. The Bucs are bad against the pass and I think Big Ben takes advantage of that. I also think the desperation and desire will be enough to make a few big plays. It won’t be pretty but… Steelers 30 Buccaneers 27
Season Prediction Record: 0-2