We learned pre-game that Pittsburgh Steelers left guard Ramon Foster will miss his second straight game, meaning that Cody Wallace will get his second straight start there. Brice McCain will play in the slot on defense, according to earlier reports. The Steelers are looking to improve to 3-1 over the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dri Archer was back to receive the opening kickoff, which of course sailed out of the back of the end zone. The first play was a screen to Will Johnson for one yard. Gerald McCoy came up the middle to sack Ben Roethlisberger on second down, beating Wallace with ease. Roethlisberger went down again on third and 16, and lost the ball in the process. The Buccaneers took over in the red zone.
They picked up two yards on the ground on first and goal, and Mike Glennon tossed up a pass to rookie Mike Evans, beating Cortez Allen on a corner fade for the quick 7-0 lead.
Le’Veon Bell had nowhere to go on first down, starting at the 30. On second and 10, he took a hard hit just to get three yards to set up third and six. Roethlisberger’s pass was batted down at the line, the third straight game he’s had one batted down. The ensuing punt was returned to the 45-yard line where long snapper Greg Warren made the tackle. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the Steelers have not gotten off to a good start.
After an incompletion on first down, a five-yard carry drew a facemask penalty, moving the ball to the Steelers’ 35. Doug Martin pushed through for three yards on the following play. On second and seven, Evan got behind Allen again in the end zone, but could not keep his feet inbounds. On third down, James Harrison came on the field. Glennon felt the pressure and threw out of bounds to force a field goal attempt, which was good for 50 yards.
After a short gain by Bell, the defense was flagged for illegal hands to the face for an extra five yards and an automatic first down. Antonio Brown couldn’t hang on to a screen pass on first down. Heath Miller dropped the ball on play action after it was slightly tipped. On third and 10, Markus Wheaton finally got something going for the offense, bring in a fingertip catch past midfield.
Roethlisberger rolled out to his right on the next play and found Wheaton on the sideline for what was ruled on the field as a catch, but was challenged by Tampa Bay. The ruling on the field stood. Brown this time managed to hold on to the ball, bringing it in to set up a first and goal.
Archer came on the field on first down and got the end around, but only picked up a yard. Miller gained one more yard on second down. On third and goal from the seven, Roethlisberger could not connect with Justin Brown, which looked like it should have been a catch. Shaun Suisham got the Steelers on the board to trail 10-3.
On first down, Cameron Heyward cut through the line for a tackle for loss. Allen was in good coverage short on Evans, but the receiver could not bring in the ball anyway. On third and 14, the defensed sniffed out the draw for a short gain to force a three-and-out.
After a short run on first down, Bell finally found some room on the following play for 16 yards, but was flagged 15 for taunting. On another rollout from Roethlisberger, the quarterback targeted Miller for four yards. The two connected again for seven across midfield.
Bell found another hole up the middle for 13 yards after the line doubled on McCoy. From the 35, Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown at the 15, down to the eight. On first and goal, Justin Brown was good for five yards down to the three. David DeCastro was flagged for a false start, pushing them back to the original line of scrimmage.
Lavonte David wiped out a screen to Bell for a loss of three. From the 11, Roethlisberger threw a strike to Antonio Brown for the score an a tie game, who was flagged for, presumably, excessive celebration. The touchdown was reviewed and upheld.
The Steelers blitzed their inside linebackers on first down, but Glennon got the pass off down the field to his tight end, who brought it in over Mike Mitchell to end the first quarter. Sean Spence missed a tackle in the backfield that led to a nine-yard run from Martin.
Heyward dragged Glennon down for a deep sack after a first down after Arthur Moats got the initial pressure. On second and 25, Martin picked up about half of the lost yardage on a screen pass. On third and 18, Glennon looked to dump it off after feeling the pressure, but couldn’t find his receiver, and the Buccaneers had to punt, which was downed at the seven.
LeGarrette Blount got the carry on first down and hit the hole for 11 yards to get some breathing room. He got it again on a draw on the following play, but for only two yards. Wheaton came up with his third catch to move the chains.
Blount cut back inside for seven yards on first down. An illegal hands to the face on the defense advanced the ball five yards with a new set of downs.
From the 46, Bell picked up three yards on a sweep. On second and seven, however, Roethlisberger was dropped for the third time, beating Kelvin Beachum. On third and 13, Roethlisberger rifled one to Lance Moore right in front of the sticks. He churned back toward the line, but the defense pulled him forward. The quarterback tried to draw the defense offside as long as possible, but the snap came with one second on the play clock, and he snuck it in to move the chains on fourth down.
On second down, Roethlisberger hit his hand off of Marcus Gilbert‘s helmet, but stayed in. Bell gained seven on a draw to set up second and short. He turned the corner for a first down on the next play.
Roethlisberger was dropped again after holding on to the ball, with Michael Johnson beating Beachum. On second and 13, Brown made an excellent adjustment in the end zone to bring in his second touchdown of the game and give the Steelers a 17-10 lead.
Vincent Jackson was good for nine yards for Tampa Bay on first down from the 20. Bobby Rainey converted on the next play. Glennon overthrew Jackson on the next play, Anthony Collins was called for holding anyway, against Harrison.
On first and 20, Jackson failed to bring in the ball. A PAIR of delay of game penalties preceded the second-down play. On second and 30, Brett Keisel was first in on a loss of two in the backfield.
The first play of the two-minute offense was a screen pass to Bell for six yards. Back to Bell again for seven yards, but he appears to be in discomfort on the sideline. Miller was dropped after eight yards on another screen as Bell remains sidelined. On second and two, Miller brought in the first down at the 30.
With Bell back in, the pass went to him for four yards. After a spike, Roethlisberger was sacked on what looked like it could have been a horsecollar penalty. But that is allowed when the quarterback is in the pocket for some reason. Suisham missed from 50 yards to end the half.