This weekend the Pittsburgh Steelers will be taking a long road trip to the sunshine state. But be warned, the Steelers are not there for a vacation, they are there to take on the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Still searching for their first win of the 2018 season, the Steelers will have their work cut out for them as they take on a team that has been hotter than the Florida sun. Here are all the numbers you need to know heading into Monday night’s big matchup.
0 – You will be hard pressed to find a player that has performed better than Buccaneers’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick thus far. The journeyman quarterback has looked like an MVP candidate through the first two weeks, leading the NFL in passing yards (819), passer rating (151.5) and leading the NFC in passing touchdowns (8). While Fitzpatrick is first in almost all major quarterbacks, one area that he has scored a big zero, is wins against the Steelers. Fitzpatrick is 0-5 against the Steelers in his career, with a 79.9 passer rating. Though the Buccaneers’ quarterback is 16-9 during the month of September and the Steelers will need a big performance to shut down the NFL’s hottest passer.
6 – This Monday will be Ben Roethlisberger’s ninth game in the state of Florida but his first against the Buccaneers. The Steelers’ quarterback is 6-2 in his career playing in Florida, going 3-1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. His record looks welcoming on paper, but Roethlisberger has had to battle for all six victories. Five out of the six victories were decided by one score and Roethlisberger struggled in his most recent trip to Florida, finishing with under 200 passing yards and two interceptions in a loss to the Dolphins. Hopefully Roethlisberger’s Monday night trip to Florida sees him enjoy himself as he aims to take care of the weak Buccaneers’ secondary.
9 – The Steelers most consistent player on offense right now may just very well be JuJu Smith-Schuster. The wide receiver has recorded at least 4 receptions in 9 consecutive regular season games. Smith-Schuster has recorded 926 receiving yards and 7 total touchdowns in that span with the Steelers holding a 6-2-1 record. More good news for JuJu, after putting up 121 receiving yards against the Chiefs, the NFL’s worst secondary, he will get the NFL’s 31st ranked secondary this Monday. The Buccaneers have allowed 376.5 passing yards per game and with an angry Antonio Brown and a consistent partner in crime in Smith-Schuster, the Steelers could be poised for another shootout.
16.6 – The Steelers defense got air raided last by Patrick Mahomes, giving up six passing touchdowns and 42 points. Perhaps and this may sound strange, the biggest reason why the Steelers gave up 40 points was because of a player that remained on the sideline. The man in question is cornerback Joe Haden. In regular season games in which Haden has started, the Steelers have allowed an average of 16.6 points per game. In regular season games in which Haden has watched from the sideline, the mark skyrockets to 27 points per game. Thankfully for the Steelers, Haden figures to return for Monday night.
25 – Splash plays have been the Steelers’ biggest kryptonite thus far this season. Unfortunately for them, splash plays have also been the Buccaneers biggest strength. In just two games, Fitzpatrick has completed nine passes for 25 or more yards. Last Sunday, Mahomes completed six passes for 25 or more yards, and the week before, even the average arm of Tyrod Taylor completed 3 passes for 25 or more yards. If defensive coordinator Keith Butler and his players are unable to come up with a solution fast, the Steelers secondary could be in store for another beatdown on Monday.