As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will tell you, luck is an extraordinary asset to have on your side but like all good things, luck eventually runs out. That is exactly what happened tonight as the Pittsburgh Steelers negated the magic trick of Ryan Fitz-magic for just long enough , defeating the Buccaneers 30-27.
It did not look like the Steelers had the ability to solve the magic that Fitzpatrick was throwing early as the Buccaneers capitalized off an early Ben Roethlisberger turnover and put seven points on the board. Fitzpatrick connected with tight end Cameron Brate on a four yard pass in the back of end zone to give the Buccaneers an early 7-0 lead.
From there, the magic of Fitzpatrick would run out.
Four of the Buccaneers’ next five drives would result in turnovers and by the end of it, the Steelers were up 30-10 heading into halftime.
First it was Artie Burns escaping the dog house and forcing a fumble on receiver Chris Godwin. Two plays later and Antonio Brown scampered his way into the endzone for a 27-yard touchdown on a catch and run.
Fitzpatrick would then see his magic disappear before his very eyes, completing the hat trick and throwing three interceptions on three consecutive drives. His first came in the red zone as a Jon Bostic deflection caused his pass to fall into the hands of slot corner Mike Hilton. Fitzpatrick would step on the field on his next drive and on his very next pass he would throw another interception, this time to rookie safety Terrell Edmunds. The pass would sail over the heads of everyone and would result in Edmunds’ first career interception.
His third and final interception would prove to be most costly as backed up in his own endzone, Fitzpatrick would gift the Steelers a pick six, floating a pass into the hands of Bud Dupree, who walked into the endzone to give the Steelers a 23-7 lead.
Roethlisberger and the offense would handle the rest, connecting with Ryan Switzer just before halftime to give the team a 30-10 lead, it would be one of Roethlisberger’s three passing touchdowns on the day. The magic seems to have passed from the Buccaneers’ signal caller to Big Ben and the quarterback was more than eager to share the wealth with his receivers.
Tight end Vance McDonald created the swing in momentum, taking a Roethlisberger pass 75-yards to the house and stiff-arming Chris Conte back into obscurity in the process. McDonald finished with four receptions and 112 yards on the day.
Brown would score the Steelers’ second touchdown, finishing with 6 catches for 50 yards but the real star was JuJu Smith-Schuster. The young and always lit wide receiver consistently bailed out the Steelers offense, making plays to extend drives and put the team in position to make plays to succeed. Most importantly though Smith-Schuster converted a crucial 2nd and nine with just over two minutes left to close out the game. The receiver finished with 9 receptions for 116 yards.
Roethlisberger finished with over 350 passing yards and three touchdowns, and while the Steelers offense was shut out for the second half, the team had just enough to survive the late game heroics of Fitzpatrick. James Conner also chipped in with 61 rushing yards, with crucial yardage coming late to seal the victory.
Fitzpatrick led the Buccaneers to 17 unanswered points in the second half, but ultimately it was not enough as the Steelers hung on barely, to secure their first win of the 2018 season.The Steelers will go back home and take on the Baltimore Ravens in a big AFC North matchup next Sunday on Sunday Night Football.