The Bucs were 2-0 and off to a great start. They hadn't looked dominant, but they had won their games and looked much better than the previous year. In Week three they would face their first good opponent in the Pittsburgh Steelers, and to prove that they belonged among the best teams in the NFL they'd have to beat them, or at least manage to not be embarrassed. That started out poorly even before the kickoff, when Raymond James Stadium was filled with Steelers fans instead of Bucs fans. The Terrible Towel was everywhere, and Steelers fans made their presence known. The Bucs would have to beat the Steelers fans and the Steelers defense to walk away with a win, but they did have one thing going for them: Ben Roethlisberger was still suspended, and Charlie Batch was the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh.
Things started out well enough for the Bucs. On just the second play from scrimmage Aqib Talib intercepted Charlie Batch at the Steelers' 31-yard line. This was looking like a good day early on, although the Bucs couldn't convert the turnover into a touchdown. They did grab a field goal and an early lead, and hoped to hold on to that lead throughout the rest of the game. Surprisingly, the Steelers decided to not cooperate.
After exchanging possession, the Bucs gave Charlie Batch and company the ball at around midfield, courtesy of one of many poor Chris Bryan punts. Charlie Batch then handed the ball to Mike Wallace on a reverse, which went nowhere. Obviously the Bucs had the speedy wide receiver neatly contained and the Steelers offense couldn't hurt them. That's what I thought, at least. Until suddenly Charlie Batch threw a pass 46 yards downfield, Cody Grimm failed to turn around for the ball and Mike Wallace scored a touchdown. Whoops.
It was really that simple: Mike Wallace had sped by everyone as he so often does, but Charlie Batch waited too long to throw the ball and this allowed Cody Grimm to get back into the picture. Unfortunately, the first-week starter made the worst play of his career by frantically waving his arms in front of Wallace's face. Wallace decided that was fool's work, paid him no mind and instead focused on the ball. If Grimm had turned around he could've easily defensed the pass.
I don't mean to chastise Cody Grimm too much. It was a rookie mistake, but those will happen to inexperienced players and Grimm was a good player for the Buccaneers for the rest of the season, making very few mistakes. But that was the breaking point for the Buccaneers that game, and it was largely his fault.
The Bucs didn't look to be in that game for a second after that. The offense couldn't do anything but score field goals, except for a late Legarrette Blount touchdown on a Josh Johnson-led drive in garbage time. The defense, meanwhile, never could contain the Steeler's unimpressive offense. Charlie Batch - the slow 35-year-old Charlie Batch - even scrambled for 24 yards and a first down at one point. Aqib Talib actually looked like intercepting a ball in the endzone, but failed to secure it and instead tipped it to - again - Mike Wallace. Whoops.
This was a day when the Buccaneers looked more like the 2009 outfit than what everyone hoped they had become in 2010. A day best forgotten quickly, if it weren't for one fact: Legarrette Blount got on the field for the first time. The Bucs failed to run the ball because, well, they were behind by a bajillion points but Blount did show his stuff with the few carries he got. Clearly a portent of things to come.