After two very impressive wins to start off the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Monday night football game on national TV. The Steelers have been struggling lately. They are still winless and are coming off a shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs, which they lost 42-37. The home loss, combined with their tie in week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, a division rival, puts immense pressure on the Steelers to beat Tampa Bay in order to avoid falling into a deep hole early in the season.
Star running back Le’Veon Bell is currently on strike and will not play against Tampa. However, James Conner will start in his place and has filled the void nicely so far, running for a total of 152 yards and 3 touchdowns on 39 carries and adding 10 receptions for 105 yards in two games.
The main task for the Bucs defense, however, will be keeping Ben Roethlisberger in check. Against the Chiefs, Big Ben passed for 452 yards and 3 touchdowns, adding another score on the ground rushing it in. As of now, Pittsburgh has the second-highest ranked passing offense, right behind the Bucs! That’s right! When’s the last time we were able to say that, Bucs fans? The fact that Tampa’s defense, especially the secondary, is tremendously depleted due to injuries, certainly does not make things any easier for the Bucs. Rookie cornerback Carlton Davis will have his hands full covering star wide receiver Antonio Brown, who is one of the best at his position.
All in all, the Steelers are standing with their backs against the wall and find themselves in a must-win situation already, even though it is only the third game of the season. Beating them will once again be a tough task for Tampa Bay. Roethlisberger is used to the national spotlight and has proven over and over again in his successful career that he can deliver under pressure. Fitzpatrick needs to be sharp. Getting an efficient running game going would definitely take tons of weight off of his shoulders.
Another key to winning for the Bucs will be creating an efficient pass rush, especially against the Steelers with a secondary full of second-stringers. The combination of Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster will be too much to handle if Roethlisberger is given too much time.
It should be a very interesting prime time game with two high-flying offenses. Pittsburgh will fight for every inch, but it will not be enough to succeed against the red-hot Buccaneers. Bucs win a nail-biter. Final score: 24-21.