The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled out a late stunner against the Pittsburgh Steelers as Mike Glennon led the Bucs to victory on their final drive of the game. While the Steelers dominated the first half, the Bucs kept the game close throughout and somehow found a way to win on an amazing, last-minute drive with just 40 seconds remaining. Mike Glennon sealed his status as cult hero in Tampa with that drive.
Mike Glennon held up the offense admirably, specifically in the second half. He ended the game with 21 completions on 41 attempts for 302 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one sack. Ben Roethlisberger, by comparison, managed to complete 28 of 40 passes for 325 yards, three touchdowns and five sacks.
Ben Roethlisberger had his way with a wounded Tampa Bay secondary which had to miss Dashon Goldson for nearly the entire game. While the Bucs defense managed five sacks, they couldn't get any consistent pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. The only reason he didn't completely carve up the secondary was a total of 115 penalty yards on the Steelers, and a few overthrown balls to wide-open receivers.
The Bucs got off to a terrific start in Pittsburgh. In the first five minutes of the game, the Buccaneers scored 10 points, got two sacks and a turnover and forced a punt. That was the kind of Tampa Bay team everyone envisioned at the start of this season.
And then reality hit, and the Bucs turned into what they'd been the rest of the season: mostly incompetent. They gave up 17 points and 253 yards through the rest of the first half and managed just 64 yards before half time. As good as the first five minutes were, that's how bad the following 25 minutes were. The Bucs were lucky to be down just one touchdown at the half.
The second half was a lot more competitive, specifically on offense. Mike Glennon threw the ball more decisively, and the wide receivers managed to hang on to their catches. Of course, one touchdown later Mike Evans pulled up with a groin injury and was ruled out for the game -- but that didn't stop the offense from being productive, as they still moved down the field. And they proved their mettle on the final drive of the game.
Overall, the Bucs can walk away from this game with a lot more confidence in their game plans, a first win, and still some significant concerns, especially in the defensive secondary. But 1-3 certainly looks much better than 0-4.
The Bucs were off to a great start during the first quarter. Play one: Steelers went nowhere on a bubble screen. Play two: Gerald McCoy sacked Ben Roethlisberger. Play three: Michael Johnson sacked Ben Roethlisberger, forced a fumble, and Jacquies Smith recovered the fumble. Two plays later the Bucs were up 7-0 as Mike Evans grabs his first career touchdown.
Second Steelers possession, the Buccaneers forced another three-and-out, with Gerald McCoy batting down the ball on third down. The Bucs turned that quality field position into a field goal. It wasn't until the third offensive possession that the Steelers' explosive offense got on the board with a single field goal.
That great start wouldn't hold up, though. The Bucs offense went back to stalling, as Mike Glennon managed just one completion outside of his touchdown throw to Mike Evans, and the Steelers found a way to protect Roethlisberger -- and that time gave him plenty of time to carve up a secondary which lost Dashon Goldson to injury.
The second quarter continued the way the first quarter ended: with the Bucs not moving the ball on offense, and giving up plays on defense thanks to a lack of pass rush. The Steelers went up 17-10 on Antonio Brown's second touchdown of the day, which came on a play where he most definitely pushed off. The Bucs defense did manage its fourth sack of the game -- but it couldn't really do anything outside of those sacks.
Meanwhile, the offense was as incompetent as it had been in previous games. The Bucs managed a whopping 64 yards of offense in the first half, and Mike Glennon completed just five of 11 passes for 57 yards and one touchdown. Compare that to Ben Roethlisberger's 19 completions on 24 attempts for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Apparently the Bucs decided that their first-half effort wasn't good enough, as they went on the offensive as soon as they got the ball back. Mike Glennon was decisive on his throws down the field, and a huge, 44-yard toe-tapping catch by Mike Evans gave Doug Martin the opportunity to run it in at the goal-line, which is exactly what he did.
Of course, the Bucs' secondary continued to be Swiss cheese as the Steelers themselves ran right down the field on their next drive, scoring another touchdown to go back up by seven points. And as the Bucs got back the ball, Mike Evans pulled up gimpy on a deep throw, leading directly to an easy interception for the Steelers.The Bucs at least managed to prevent the Steelers from actually scoring on the resulting drive.
The Bucs offense, with no Mike Evans, was still productive somehow. Mike Glennon pushed them right down the field with a couple of good third-down conversions, but the offense stalled in the red zone settling for a field goal to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 24-20. The defense stepped up once again, though mostly that was Steelers incompetence in overthrowing wide open receivers to give the Bucs the ball once again during the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Bucs then went on one impressive, long drive mostly without Vincent Jackson and entirely without Mike Evans. They got to the Steelers' 14-yard line, and with three chances to get a touchdown Mike Glennon couldn't find any of his receivers in the end zone.
The Buce got one final chance with 40 seconds remaining, and somehow got to the goal-line with 15 seconds remaining and another four shots at the end zone after a huge Louis Murphy catch and run. And this time, Mike Glennon didn't fail: he hit Vincent Jackson right in the injured wrist, and he came down with the touchdown to beat the Steelers.
Dashon Goldson suffered an ankle injury during the first quarter and did not return.
Mike Evans suffered a groin injury during the third quarter and was immediately ruled out for the game.