As there tends to be, there are quite a few moments we can all turn to, to see how it all ended the way it did.
I’ve selected a few here which stood out for various reasons.
The Play: Steelers convert on third and takes the lead
At the time this play happened, the Bucs were holding on to a one point lead and Ben Roethlisberger had already connected on a 43-yard pass to wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster.
However, three plays after the big strike, the Tampa Bay defense had a chance to force a long field goal try by kicker Chris Boswell who has been struggling to start the 2018 season.
But on this 3rd-and-11, Roethlisberger’s line gave him a pretty solid pocket which he stepped in to and fired a 12-yard completion to tight end Vance McDonald.
The play was the sixth of the possession and kept alive a drive which ended up spanning ten plays and ended with an easier field goal try from the Bucs’ 20-yard line.
In all, the Steelers used around five minutes of game clock, took their first lead of the game and effectively extinguished any remaining momentum the Buccaneers had from their early first quarter successes.
As we all know by now, the remainder of the first half only got worse, but getting off the field two minutes sooner and forcing Pittsburgh into a 50+ yard field goal try or punt could have stopped the bleeding as it started.
The Play: Chris Godwin restarts the faucet
When a team losses their momentum, its absolutely crucial to regain as much of it as possible as soon as possible.
You know the phrase, ‘When it rains, it pours’? Well, when there’s a chance to stop the drip, teams have to take advantage.
One way of doing this is by getting some quick first downs and moving the ball. The Buccaneers appeared to have a good start to this process until Chris Godwin fumbled a second-down pass which would have given Tampa Bay a new set of downs on their own 35-yard line.
Instead, just two snaps after taking the lead, the Pittsburgh Steelers scooped up the second-year player’s gaff and took their own momentum up a couple notches.
Two plays later Antonio Brown took the ball into the end zone, and the away team who had so much turmoil around them turned six snaps of the football into ten points and a nine-point lead.
The first-half run by the Steelers was underway.
The Play: GMac misses the sack
Our final moment for this week comes near the end of the game. Some may say, at the end of the game really.
The Steelers have the ball, a three-point lead, and 2nd-and-10 from inside their own 35-yard line. Trying to kill the clock and get their first win of the season. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is trying to complete a ‘magical’ comeback. All they need to do is get the ball back.
On first down, the Steelers handed the ball to James Conner and predictably the Bucs defense was ready to stop him in his tracks as they had for basically the entire game.
I think we all knew a pass was coming at some point. The Steelers are simply too aggressive and have too many weapons to not try and catch the defense selling out against the run.
Well, it came. And it was a huge opportunity to either get a sack, an interception or force a clock-stopping interception. And the Bucs were ready.
As Roethlisberger executed the play-action, the back-end defenders stayed disciplined and covered the field. Not having the gaps he needed, and with the pocket collapsing, the Steelers quarterback tried navigating up into the pocket to buy time for his teammates.
That’s when he stepped into Tampa Bay’s All-Pro defensive tackle. Problem is, Gerald McCoy kind of grazed the quarterback instead of wrapping up his body or even a foot.
The result was an upright Roethlisberger completing a critical pass to Smith-Schuster who also converted for a new set of downs.
I don’t blame McCoy as much as some are. After all, Big Ben didn’t get his nickname from ironic comedy.
Still, this was the Bucs’ best shot at getting their offense back on the field, and they fell about a half an arm’s length away from taking advantage of it.
In the end, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Again, many plays contributed.
These are just a few which helped to undo, undermine, and ultimately unseat the Bucs from the ranks of the NFL’s undefeated.
Which play was the biggest contributor to the loss?
This poll is closed
Early third-down conversion by Steelers
McCoy’s missed sack
Other (Please Comment)