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Knee Jerk Reactions from the Steelers 30-27 win over the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:03pm

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers’ quest to finally win a 2018 game.

As Week Two’s bizarre showcase wasn’t too easy, and made those in Steelers Nation queasy, I couldn’t help, once again, to be feeling cautiously optimistic leading up to what I presumed to be the necessary bounce back against Tampa Bay. But then I remembered Fitzmagic could be tragic to a struggling defense, and I started to just down cheeseburgers until the Casey Hamptonesque angel on my shoulder told me that I was embarrassing myself. At this point, I decided to wait until gametime to react and open the window to all of you. So if you want to know how my emotions fluctuated throughout the evening, keep on reading.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers first time in Tampa in eight years.

1st Quarter
  • What’s the benefit of having a quick KR like Switzer if the Steelers are going to always get called for a hold on the return?
  • No disrespect intended, but I’m not too sure about Jordan Dangerfield anymore.
  • I heard that the Steelers were going to water down the defense. They obviously watered down the offense on that first series too.
  • Jordan Berry will not be punting for the Steelers next weekend.
  • Mike Evans (not the original Lionel Jefferson) was wide open on that drop.
  • Thats why I love Joe Haden. Nice breakup.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
  • Uggh. Is this Road Ben or Bad Elbow Ben?
  • The right side of the D-line just got dominated on the Barber run.
  • Here we go again. Tight Ends kill the Steelers. It could be another long night.
  • Conner needs to get going.
  • When Vance McDonald is healthy. Wow!
  • That stiff arm was Gronk-like.
  • Chris Boswell has no more excuses. Does he suddenly have the kicking version of Steve Blass disease.
  • I’m not so sure about how blatant the Bostic hit was.
  • Tony Romo is awesome in the booth. Jason Witten is no Romo.
  • T.J. Watt looked awful on that attempted tackle.
  • It’s falling apart.
  • Second penalty on McCullers. Good Gravy!
  • Bostic. Nice coverage.
  • They have no pass rush. It’s killing them.
  • I stand corrected. Nice job, Chick.
  • Nice pass play by both Ben and JuJu.
  • Ben’s acting lessons are paying off.
Quarter 2
  • Big Al can’t hold there. Crap.
  • Ben and Vance have good chemistry.
  • Wow. The hardest hit of the night is the wall on Isaiah Johnson. Hope he’s okay.
  • Artie Burns with a solid tackle.
  • I hate the defensive posing on turnovers.
  • That was all AB. Fantastic.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  • No denying that face mask penalty.
  • Mike Evans is really, really good.
  • Seven penalties already. Lack of discipline will kill them.
  • Hes not a Raven anymore, but I still don’t like the Ginga Ninja.
  • Grounding anyone? Someone must have been in the area.
  • I’m really liking Bostic. Good awareness by Hilton as well.
  • I’ll take it, but I’m not a big fan of that JJP roughing penalty on Ben.
  • Glad to see stony Dungy honored. In my mind he has two SB rings as a coach. But that’s just me.
  • Seriously. I’m roughing the passer in my living room.
  • Awesome. Edmunds desperately needed that pick.
  • Those O-line reserves are going to get Ben murdered.
  • That’s why you keep DHB.
  • Yesssssss! Bud needed that play badly. Great job adjusting from the rush to the coverage.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
  • More like Fitzmanic or Fitztragic.
  • Fitzpatrick is even more entertaining than Peyton Manning on the audible.
  • Evans is hard to cover. Wow!
  • Was that more of a drop or Haden? I think a drop.
  • Tony Toe Tap is one of the best sideline receiver ever.
  • JuJu with the stiffy as well.
  • Great to see Switzer get in. Hated the camera angle. Missed it.
Quarter 3
  • That’s not a touchdown. Hilton touched him.
  • Wow. Evidence and still a reversal. Doesn’t happen often.
  • Can’t ever give up a 3rd and 18.
  • Bud is having a night.
  • Holding a team to three twice in 2018. Who are these guys.
  • Too bad. AB was wide open.
  • Washington looks to be earning Ben’s trust.
  • Seriously. What is wrong with Boz? He can’t become a liability.
Quarter 4
  • No excuses for Sensabaugh. The rookie schooled the veteran in that score.
  • Penn State’s Godwin is a player.
  • This team still needs a shutdown corner.
  • They are going to blow this game.
  • They got lucky on the Desean Jackson return. Really lucky.
  • Did they really just let Fitz run for 17 yards?
  • I’m losing faith in Artie Burns. But Mike Evans is incredible.
  • I’m afraid that Fitzmagic is real.
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images
  • Don’t know how they pulled that off.
  • Why can’t things ever be nice and easy?

...

So...now as I replay the game more and more in my head, my perceptions and maybe my prescriptions will alter. But for now, you just got a glimpse of the first thoughts that popped in my mind while I was watching this game. Feel free to get your commentus maximus on in the section below.

Steelers Injury Report: Mike Hilton the only listed injury after win over Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 10:52pm

During the Steelers’ big win, they were forced to finish the game without cornerback Mike Hilton.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers clinging to a precarious 10 point lead in fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they were forced to survive the rest of the way without the help of cornerback Mike Hilton,

#Steelers CB Mike Hilton sustained an elbow injury. He is questionable to return to tonight’s game.

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) September 25, 2018

After suffering an elbow injury in the second half, Hilton was officially ruled as questionable to return, and never made it back into the game. That being said, it did not stop him from trying.

Mike Hilton an inch away from Tomlin on sidelines trying to get back in

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) September 25, 2018

Cameron Sutton replaced Hilton as the nickel corner for the rest of the match up, and head coach Mike Tomlin labeled Hilton’s injury as “significant” during his post-game press conference.

Tomlin will give a more detailed update on Hilton’s status during his Tuesday press conference at noon, this after Hilton’s elbow will be further evaluated and tested to see the severity of the injury.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes regarding the black-and-gold as they now prepare for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football at Heinz Field in Week 4.

Steelers break through in prime time, hold on to beat Bucs 30-27

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 10:34pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally won a game!!

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Week 3 under very different circumstances. Tampa Bay was red-hot coming in with a 2-0 record, and the Steelers had yet to crack the win column after starting with an 0-1-1 record.

All that aside, this matchup had the look of a shootout in its purest form. Ryan Fitzpatrick had been the NFC’s best quarterback through the early portion of the season, and Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense were no slouch either.

When the game got underway, it was Pittsburgh receiving the opening kickoff, and a three-and-out was what ensued after a special team penalty pushed them back on the opening kickoff. After another mediocre Jordan Berry punt, the Steelers’ defense stood tall and forced a three-and-out of their own on the Buccaneers’ first possession of the game.

On the second Pittsburgh possession it was Tampa Bay who drew first blood when Justin Evans stepped in front of a Roethlisberger pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster and gave the Buccaneers tremendous field position after the interception. With the ball on the Pittsburgh 46-yard line, it took just four plays for Fitzpatrick to find Cameron Brate for a 4-yard touchdown to give Tampa Bay an early 7-0 lead.

With a chance to answer, on third-and-10 Roethlisberger found a wide open Vance McDonald who stiff-armed Chris Conte into next week on his way to a 75-yard touchdown.

Vance McDonald isn't playing around!

(via @NFL)pic.twitter.com/TVNwlSdmhD

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 25, 2018

Don't make him angry.
You won't like him when he's angry. pic.twitter.com/e3WBR7oAss

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

However, Chris Boswell’s kicking woes continued with a missed point-after, his second in the past two weeks, and the score was 7-6 midway through the first quarter.

After Tampa Bay threatened to add to their lead, an Anthony Chickillo sack on third down pushed them out of field goal range and forced a punt. The Steelers turned the possession into a Boswell field goal, his first of the season, giving Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead.

The Buccaneers’ next possession ended quickly when Fitzpatrick completed a pass to C.J. Godwin, but Artie Burns jarred the ball loose and it was recovered by Mike Hilton for the first Pittsburgh turnover of the game.

So... we need to update you on some stuff...

This happened. pic.twitter.com/24kT8CRMWe

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on a quick slant, and after making a defender miss Brown was off to the races for the score.

Then @AB84 did what he does best. pic.twitter.com/L4ywgV91J8

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

Boswell tacked on the extra point to give the Steelers a 16-7 lead.

For the second straight possession, Ryan Fitzpatrick had the Buccaneers in scoring position, but a Jon Bostic tipped pass turned into a Mike Hilton interception, denying Tampa Bay of points again.

For those counting at home:

1️⃣ fumble recovery for @MikeHilton_28
1️⃣ interception for @MikeHilton_28 pic.twitter.com/HC4iv5irfn

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

Pittsburgh failed to turn the turnover into points, but on the next Tampa Bay drive Fitzpatrick was picked off again, this time by rookie safety Terrell Edmunds.

First interception alert pic.twitter.com/YRcWSrpuTx

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

For the second straight possession, the Steelers failed to convert the turnover into points, giving the ball back to the Bucs.

What happened next was Fitzpatrick’s third straight interception, this time to Bud Dupree and Dupree walked into the endzone for the Steelers’ touchdown.

Speaking of firsts...@Bud_Dupree with the first touchdown of his career‼️ pic.twitter.com/QGp9uLZ0TX

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

The Boswell point-after made the score 23-7 with 2:50 left to go in the first half.

The Buccaneers weren’t going to just roll over and die, and a big pass play from Fitzpatrick to Mike Evans moved the Tampa Bay offense inside the 10-yard line. However, the Steelers’ defense held strong and forced a 21-yard field goal attempt to make the score 23-10 with 1:15 left in the half.

Just a little Switzmagic. pic.twitter.com/YNRMolTBJ8

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

Boswell made the extra point, giving the Steelers a 30-10 lead heading into halftime.

The Buccaneers started the second half with the football, and despite driving down into the red-zone, and facing a first-and-goal from the 6-yard line, they came away with only three points. The field goal made the score 30-13 with just over 7-minutes remaining in the third quarter.

After a lengthy drive of their own ended in another Chris Boswell missed field goal, Fitzpatrick and the Bucs’ offense continued to pass their way back into the game. The next Tampa Bay drive took up a lot of time, but ended in a C.J. Godwin touchdown reception to make the score 30-20 with 11:06 left in the fourth quarter.

The Steelers’ failed to put up any points since the second quarter, and Tampa Bay came storming back into the game when Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Mike Evans with just over 5-minutes left in the game to narrow the lead to 3-points, 30-27.

James Conner came alive on the ensuing Pittsburgh drive, and on 3rd and 9 from the 36-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Antonio Brown and the Steelers were forced to punt the ball away with 3:22 left in the game, putting the pressure on a defense which has provided little resistance in the second half.

Pittsburgh forced a punt with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter, and on 2nd down Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Shuster for a huge first down. On the next play from scrimmage James Conner rumbled for a first down, icing the game away.

The win gives the Steelers their first win of the season, and moves their record to 1-1-1 heading into a Week 4 game vs. the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football at Heinz Field.

Be sure to stay locked to BTSC for all the best Steelers coverage leading up to the huge AFC North grudge match next Sunday.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers Week 3: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 9:45pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

The Buccaneers started the second half with the football, and despite driving down into the red-zone, and facing a first-and-goal from the 6-yard line, they came away with only three points. The field goal made the score 30-13 with just over 7-minutes remaining in the third quarter.

After a lengthy drive of their own ended in another Chris Boswell missed field goal, the Buccaneers took over possession, and the third quarter came to end end...in rather quick fashion. It was the only quarter of the game the Steelers were held without points.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers, Week 3: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 9:05pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 regular season is here with the Steelers and Bucs locking horns in Week 3. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the first game of the 2018 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Steelers vs. Buccaneers Week 3: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 8:56pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

The Steelers started the second quarter in Tampa Bay territory, and the Steelers turned the possession into a Boswell field goal, his first of the season, giving Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead.

The Buccaneers’ next possession ended quickly when Fitzpatrick completed a pass to C.J. Godwin, but Artie Burns jarred the ball loose and it was recovered by Mike Hilton for the first Pittsburgh turnover of the game.

So... we need to update you on some stuff...

This happened. pic.twitter.com/24kT8CRMWe

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on a quick slant, and after making a defender miss Brown was off to the races for the score.

Then @AB84 did what he does best. pic.twitter.com/L4ywgV91J8

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

Boswell tacked on the extra point to give the Steelers a 16-7 lead.

For the second straight possession, Ryan Fitzpatrick had the Buccaneers in scoring position, but a Jon Bostic tipped pass turned into a Mike Hilton interception, denying Tampa Bay of points again.

For those counting at home:

1️⃣ fumble recovery for @MikeHilton_28
1️⃣ interception for @MikeHilton_28 pic.twitter.com/HC4iv5irfn

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

Pittsburgh failed to turn the turnover into points, but on the next Tampa Bay drive Fitzpatrick was picked off again, this time by rookie safety Terrell Edmunds.

First interception alert pic.twitter.com/YRcWSrpuTx

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

For the second straight possession, the Steelers failed to convert the turnover into points, giving the ball back to the Bucs.

What happened next was Fitzpatrick’s third straight interception, this time to Bud Dupree and Dupree walked into the endzone for the Steelers’ touchdown.

Speaking of firsts...@Bud_Dupree with the first touchdown of his career‼️ pic.twitter.com/QGp9uLZ0TX

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

The Boswell point-after made the score 23-7 with 2:50 left to go in the first half.

The Buccaneers weren’t going to just roll over and die, and a big pass play from Fitzpatrick to Mike Evans moved the Tampa Bay offense inside the 10-yard line. However, the Steelers’ defense held strong and forced a 21-yard field goal attempt to make the score 23-10 with 1:15 left in the half.

With three timeouts remaining, Roethlisberger orchestrated a beautiful drive deep into Tampa Bay territory, and with 10 seconds left Roethlisberger hit Ryan Switzer for the touchdown.

The Buccaneers weren’t going to just roll over and die, and a big pass play from Fitzpatrick to Mike Evans moved the Tampa Bay offense inside the 10-yard line. However, the Steelers’ defense held strong and forced a 21-yard field goal attempt to make the score 23-10 with 1:15 left in the half.

Boswell made the extra point, giving the Steelers a 30-10 lead heading into halftime.

The Buccaneers will get the football to start the second half.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers Week 3: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 7:53pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Week 3 under very different circumstances. Tampa Bay was red-hot coming in with a 2-0 record, and the Steelers had yet to crack the win column after starting with an 0-1-1 record.

All that aside, this matchup had the look of a shootout in its purest form. Ryan Fitzpatrick had been the NFC’s best quarterback through the early portion of the season, and Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense were no slouch either.

When the game got underway, it was Pittsburgh receiving the opening kickoff, and a three-and-out was what ensued after a special team penalty pushed them back on the opening kickoff. After another mediocre Jordan Berry punt, the Steelers’ defense stood tall and forced a three-and-out of their own on the Buccaneers’ first possession of the game.

On the second Pittsburgh possession it was Tampa Bay who drew first blood when Justin Evans stepped in front of a Roethlisberger pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster and gave the Buccaneers tremendous field position after the interception. With the ball on the Pittsburgh 46-yard line, it took just four plays for Fitzpatrick to find Cameron Brate for a 4-yard touchdown to give Tampa Bay an early 7-0 lead.

With a chance to answer, on third-and-10 Roethlisberger found a wide open Vance McDonald who stiff-armed Chris Conte into next week on his way to a 75-yard touchdown.

Don't make him angry.
You won't like him when he's angry. pic.twitter.com/e3WBR7oAss

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 25, 2018

However, Chris Boswell’s kicking woes continued with a missed point-after, his second in the past two weeks, and the score was 7-6 midway through the first quarter.

After Tampa Bay threatened to add to their lead, an Anthony Chickillo sack on third down pushed them out of field goal range and forced a punt.

The Steelers have the ball in Tampa Bay territory at the end of the first quarter.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers, Week 3: First-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 6:55pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 regular season is here with the Steelers and Bucs locking horns in Week 3. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the first game of the 2018 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Steelers Week 3 Inactives: David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert and Morgan Burnett all inactive

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 5:57pm

The Steelers are set to be without three key starters on Monday as all the players listed as doubtful on Saturday when included among the inactives

With 90 minutes until kick off, assuming the weather does not delay the start of the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers have officially released their list of seven inactive players for Week 3, and as was always expected, injuries have dictated some of the inclusions.

David DeCastro misses his second straight game of the year with a fractured hand, while a hamstring Marcus Gilbert will sideline the right tackle for the first time in 2018. B.J. Finney is expected to start in place of DeCastro and Matt Feiler will replace Gilbert in the lineup, while Zach Banner gets a rare chance to dress on game day.

Morgan Burnett was the third player declared doubtful for the game on Saturday and just like DeCastro and Gilbert, his injury has not healed sufficiently to allow him to play. A combination of Terrell Edmunds and Nat Berhe will see snaps in his absence.

With Tyson Alualu cleared to return to action, L.T. Walton finds himself inactive once again just as in Week 1 and Justin Hunter sits for his second game. For Mason Rudolph and Marcus Allen, it is a typical game day for them watching from the bench with both players still waiting to dress for their first game as professionals.

Predicting the Steelers’ Week 3 inactive list vs. the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 2:29pm

Injuries have caused the inactive list to shuffle over the first three weeks

It’s a sad weekend for the Steelers when my highlight is correctly choosing the inactive list. I’d rather be 0/7 and get the W, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

Game Status

Doubtful:

OT Marcus Gilbert(Hamstring)

G David DeCastro (Hand)

S Morgan Burnett (Groin)

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 3:

Definitely:

Once again, nobody has been officially ruled out for Monday night.

Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph- it’s tempting to move Rudolph to the definitely category. It is hopeful he will move into the backup role eventually, but it may not be in 2018.

G David DeCastro- failing to practice either last week or this week, it would be quite the surprise if DeCastro was active.

S Morgan Burnett- his weekly progress was in the wrong direction after practicing in a limited fashion on Thursday. As a nonparticipant the final two days, Burnett is probably sitting this one out.

DT L.T. Walton- after getting a helmet last week with Alualu being out with an injury, Walton is likely to return to his “odd man out” role.

WR Justin Hunter- many people were surprised about Hunter being inactive this early in the season. It was only a matter of time until Washington was getting his reps and the transition occurred last week.

Possibly:

OT Marcus Gilbert or Zach Banner- although Gilbert is doubtful, he did at least practice in a limited fashion on Saturday. It will be a game-time decision whether he will play or Banner will dress for added depth.

S Marcus Allen, Nat Berhe, or CB Cam Sutton- this is a tough call. Allen has not been active yet this season, but with Burnett possibly missing the game he could have the opportunity. Berhe has had little impact on special teams so he could get bumped instead. It was Coty Sensabaugh as the CB who didn’t dress week 1 when all were healthy, but he reportedly could get the start instead of Artie Burns. So does Sutton not even get a helmet after starting last week or do they go with one less safety?

Unlikely:

G Ramon Foster- he was on the injury report early in the week with a knee injury but did not miss any practice time.

DT Tyson Alualu- after missing the last game he was full every practice this week.

DT Stephon Tuitt- he was sick on Friday but returned fully on Saturday and is not listed on the injury report.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Mason Rudolph
  2. David DeCastro
  3. Morgan Burnett
  4. L.T. Walton
  5. Justin Hunter
  6. Marcus Allen
  7. Marcus Gilbert

Once again, I have all players listed as doubtful not playing. The tough call was Marcus Allen over any CB. Ultimately I believe the Steelers can go with only four safeties with Cam Sutton being able to fill in if needed. I also think the Steelers would cut Berhe and promote either Brian Allen or Keon Adams from the practice squad if they were not going to have him active.

Feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

NFL Picks: Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. Buccaneers, Week 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 1:30pm

Will the Steelers rebound in Week 3 in prime time vs. the Buccaneers?

It’s Week 3, but it’s safe to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are at a crossroads. Sitting on a pitiful 0-1-1 record, the boys from the ‘burgh head to Tampa to play the red-hot and undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

To suggest this is a must-win game, although it might feel like one, is hardly the reality. There are simply too many games left and, as the rest of the Week-3 slate of games proved, anything can happen in the NFL on any given weekend.

But if there was such a thing as a game which felt like a must-win, even this early in the season, it would be this prime-time affair in Florida.

This matchup certainly has a lot of facets to it — none more glaring than the Buccaneers’ offense, driven by Ryan Fitzpatrick, going against a Steelers’ defense who, last time they took the field, resembled a sieve more than a respectable, NFL defense.

Then you look on the other side of things and you see a Steelers’ offense which has put up enough points to win in both of their first two games, but were only let down by the aforementioned defense. Could there still be improvement in this area? Absolutely, but can you blame an offense that puts up 21 and 37 points but has yet to win a game?

While getting off to a good start will be key to the success of the Steelers, putting together a 4-quarter performance is something which hasn’t happened in a long time for Mike Tomlin’s crew.

As bad as the Steelers have been during the first two weeks, I often think about Mike Tomlin as a baseball player. When you watch baseball games, they often show the hitter’s ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots on the strike zone. A player who hits low and inside pitches well would show bright red in that area. However, the low and outside pitches might give him fits, so that area would be dark blue. With Tomlin, the road game against a lesser opponent would be the dark blue, but the prime-time game with the team’s back against the wall would be bright red.

Given that the Steelers’ offense is playing well and going against a not-so-good defense in Tampa Bay, I find it hard to believe the Pittsburgh defense will duplicate their Week-2 performance in prime time. Not that they’ll shut down Fitzpatrick and company, but put forth a better showing.

In other words, I’m not in the camp suggesting the Steelers get crushed in this game. No, I see this game going down to the wire and I’ll leave it to another player who’s had a rough start to the 2018 regular season to win the game. I think the Steelers win in the final seconds thanks to a Chris Boswell field goal.

The win would move their record to 1-1-1 and put them right back into the thick of things in the crowded AFC.

Prediction:

Steelers - 38
Buccaneers - 35

Steelers vs. Buccaneers: Setting the stage, and picking the winner of this Monday night matchup

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 11:57am

This week, the Steelers face a must-win against one of the hottest teams in the league

We’re at the point in the season where the teams that start [insert record] have a [insert percentage] of qualifying for the postseason stories are a ubiquitous part of the NFL news cycle; here’s one, which explains that teams who start 0-3 have about a three percent chance of turning things around and making the playoffs. While the aforementioned study doesn’t take ties into consideration, I think it’s safe to ascertain that teams who are winless—such as a team with, say, an 0-2-1 record—entering Week 4 are in trouble. I guess this is kind of a roundabout way of saying that the Steelers, who tied the Browns (who actually are maybe good?) and lost to the Chiefs (who are absolutely incredibly good) in Weeks 1 and 2, are facing somewhat of a must-win situation against Tampa Bay tonight. In Tampa. Against the 2-0 Bucs. Whose offense is red-hot and whose quarterback is playing out of his mind.

Yes, yes, the quarterback.

Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like the final boss from the next Far Cry game and has transformed Tampa’s vertical passing attack into arguably the league’s most formidable outfit. Of course, none of this should come as much of a surprise; the Bucs were trendy Super Bowl contenders last season specifically because of the strength and multidimensionality of their passing attack, and Fitzpatrick has somewhat of a penchant playing really, really well when he’s handed the keys to a new offense. More accurately, Fitzpatrick has always been a gunslinger, and he’s now playing within a system and alongside the personnel that best accentuates his gunslinging attributes.

It’s an offense laden with playmakers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better duo of deep-ball playmakers in the NFL than Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, and there aren’t many tight ends who can get upfield quicker than O.J. Howard, either. Chris Godwin has emerged as a reliable tertiary receiver, and tight end Cameron Brate, who’s amassed 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns over the past two seasons, hasn’t even been needed this season, having only been targeted twice through two games. And we haven’t mentioned the backfield, which features the highly-underrated Peyton Barber and second-round pick Ronald Jones III. Having to face off against this lot just a week after trying to contain the Chiefs and their overflowing font of offensive firepower isn’t fair.

Much like Kansas City, Tampa’s secondary is missing its best player (cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who will miss the remainder of the 2018 season with a bad shoulder), so, if the Steelers need Ben Roethlisberger to throw 60 passes again, he should find success doing so. Still, there’s a lot to like about Tampa’s defense. Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David are Pro Bowl linebackers, and Gerald McCoy might be the best defensive tackle in the league not named Aaron Donald. Jason Pierre-Paul is here now.

What should concern you most about the Bucs is that each of their wins this season have come against 2017 division winners. They nearly hung 50 on the Saints in New Orleans in Week 1 and convincingly dispatched the Super Bowl-winning Eagles in Week 2. This is a remarkable, stunning turn of events. In recognition of the misfortunes that general befall 0-3 teams, experts and laypeople alike wrote the Bucs off the day the schedule was released. This team finished 5-11 last season; hardly anyone could’ve imagined that this group would escape their treacherous early-season stretch against New Orleans, Philly, and Pittsburgh with even a single win, let alone two or three. They should be favored against a Steelers teams that’s failed mightily to live up to its lofty preseason expectations.

Prediction: Bucs 30, Steelers 27

I hope I’m wrong about this particular game, but I just have a feeling that next week is gonna be when the Steelers finally turn the corner. The Bucs’ vertical passing attack is a major concern, and Pittsburgh’s performance (or lack thereof) against Kansas City provided no assurances that this outfit is capable of abating dynamic playmakers.

I’m interested to see how Antonio Brown bounces back (if you can even call it that; the man if coming off a game in which he caught nine passes) after his...controversial...week. I’d recommend finding an online bettor that does prop bets and placing a wager on Roethlisberger’s first completion going to Brown.

Also, what could really put the Bucs offense over-the-top is a multitalented workhorse running back. What could really help ease some of Pittsburgh’s defensive woes is a speedy middle linebacker. If the Steelers really are interesting in trading Le’Veon Bell (for whatever it is worth I think this is a very dumb idea, but I don’t get paid to make those kinds of decisions), perhaps they could ask the Bucs if they’d be interested in swapping Alexander for Bell.

3 Steelers who need to have a huge game to help secure a win

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 10:38am

A trio of Pittsburgh Steelers who need to step up their game on Monday night to get the team its first ‘W’ of the 2018 regular season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ‘En Fuego’.

Led by journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bucs are off to one of the best starts of this young 2018 football season. Fitzpatrick was leading the league in passing yardage(819) heading into Week 3, and has a 78% completion percentage. In back-to-back weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have played the two hottest quarterbacks in the league.

Needless to say, this will be another strong test for the Steelers, mainly the defense. Let’s take a look at three specific players who will need to have a huge game if our favorite team is going to be successful for the first time this season.

Ben Roethlisberger

This goes without saying, he could be on this list just about every week. Despite ending with solid numbers at the end of the Week-2 game vs. the Chiefs, something seems out of sync. The first couple of drives in the previous game were less than stellar. Pittsburgh will need better starts to games, and playing on the road against a hot football team puts this task at the feet of No. 7.

T.J. Watt

To piggyback off of a solid article by our very own Geoffrey Benedict, who highlighted some interesting stats about our second-year outside linebacker, I believe the arrow is pointing up for this young man, but it’s time to see some consistency. Tampa Bay is going to attempt to throw the ball with regularity on Monday night, and they’ll most likely look to throw it deep. The Pittsburgh secondary didn’t meet the challenge last week, and neither did the pass rush. I believe Watt will have the opportunity to get to the quarterback, but the question is, will he?

Sean Davis

Once again Steelers’ fans are wondering what’s going on with the secondary. Opposing receivers and tight ends are running wide-open again. The talking point in the offseason was better communication. OK, they talked about it, but it looks as if that was the extent of it — talk. Tampa has two solid wide receivers in Mike Evans and a resurgent DeSean Jackson.

Mike Evans - Seventeen catches with four going for 20+ yards, one of which went over 40 yards

DeSean Jackson - Nine catches with seven going for 20+ yards, two of which went over 40 yards. Also, Jackson has a 30-yard average per catch.

The Steelers’ cornerbacks must have solid games, but Keith Butler might be wise to give some help over the top, and this falls into the lap of our last line of defense, Sean Davis.

...

This is purely my take, but feel free to give us your opinion in the comment section below!

Go Steelers!

Teams like the Steelers win games like the one against the Buccaneers on Monday night

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 9:22am

Teams like the Steelers often find ways to win when their backs are against the wall. The Steelers will either be contenders this year or they won’t. If they are who everyone said they were coming into 2018, they should be able to take care of business against the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

If you visit several Steelers’ sites around the World Wide Web, you’ll see a lot of pleas from fans telling everyone to relax, it’s early, it’s not time to panic.

Really? I’ll give you that it’s early, but even at 0-1-1, if you think it’s not time to panic, I beg to differ.

For starters, about three percent of NFL teams that begin 0-3 go on to make the playoffs. Yes, I know, if the Steelers lose to the Buccaneers at Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football, they will drop to 0-2-1, but that isn’t going to make me feel much better about their chances.

No, a loss to Tampa would basically reshape the 2018 narrative, with the Steelers likely fighting tooth-and-nail during the next 14 weeks just to stay in the playoff hunt.

Forget home-field advantage. Forget AFC North supremacy. Best case scenario: we’re talking road whites in early January, baby.

And this is why I have a pretty good feeling the Steelers will win. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and I said, “Teams like the Steelers find ways to win games like these, while teams like the Bucs find ways to lose.”

He didn’t necessarily get it, but let me try to explain this in college football terms:

Picture a 12-0 Boise State team being denied one of the four playoff spots because the selection committee deemed the competition in their conference—the Mountain West Conference—too weak compared to the Big Ten’s and SEC’s of the college football world.

Boise State half-heartedly accepts an invitation to the Fiesta Bowl to take on a Notre Dame squad that, at 8-4, is having a season a little below its usual standards and expectations. Fast-forward to New Year’s Day, the night of the game. Is anyone shocked when Notre Dame’s plethora of four- and five-star recruits puts everything together for sixty minutes and the Fighting Irish throttle Boise State by three touchdowns?

Of course not.

That was kind of the point I was trying to make to my friend.

The Buccaneers couldn’t be riding higher right now after two weeks of the regular season. Following a 5-11 season in 2017, they went into New Orleans in Week 1 and put on an offensive show in a 48-40 win over the Saints. Last week, they knocked off the Super Bowl-champion Eagles at home, 27-21.

Despite a suspension to start the season for quarterback Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay looks like one of the better offenses in the NFL, led by journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick —the man the Bucs’ faithful have dubbed “Fitzmagic,” thanks to a two-week span in which he’s completed 48 of 61 passes for 819 yards and eight touchdowns.

Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson, at the age of 31, looks like one of the best deep threats in the NFL right now, averaging an astounding 30.5 yards per reception.

Speaking of magic, the Buccaneers could really put a huge deposit down on a magical 2018 campaign on Monday night (and, in the process, put the Steelers’ season in foreclosure) by getting off to a 3-0 start in front of their home fans.

Which, again, is why I don’t think it’ll happen.

You can say what you want about the Steelers under head coach Mike Tomlin, but one thing they seem to have a knack for is winning football games when their backs are against the wall.

The Steelers’ backs are against the wall.

If you want to say Tomlin’s record against inferior teams is tangible evidence that his squad will lay an egg when facing such an opponent, then you must recognize his ability to have his players ready for stronger teams.

Either the Steelers will be a true contender this year, or they won’t be, and a 1-1-1 start would certainly be a manageable record to use as a springboard for the rest of the season.

Don’t be surprised if the Steelers pick this week to get up off of the mat and remind the football world they’re still a force to be reckoned with.

Trading Le’Veon Bell is plausible if the Steelers are willing to be realistic about price

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 8:05am

While a trade seems highly unlikely, the Steelers should certainly entertain one if they can get anything better than a third-round draft pick in 2020.

Following a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN on Sunday that the Pittsburgh Steelers were now listening to trades offers for Le’Veon Bell, the initial response from many fans and most of the Steelers’ beat writing community is that a trade will never happen. However, while it may seem highly unlikely that Pittsburgh would move their star running-back during the season, it might not be quite as implausible as some believe.

Putting aside the obvious technical difficulties of completing a trade, principally the fact that Bell would need to sign his franchise tag and also have agreed to the move, accepting suitable compensation from a team capable of absorbing his cap hit shouldn’t be that hard to do.

With Bell set to be playing elsewhere in 2019 when he hits free agency, if the the Steelers stay on their current path, the best Pittsburgh will see in return when he leaves is a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2020. In a practical sense, anything another team is willing to offer them which is better than the 33rd pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft is essentially an upgrade.

As ridiculous as it might seem to say, receiving a third-round pick in the 2019 draft, as they did previously in the deal that sent Martavis Bryant to Oakland, is probably a deal worth doing this year. Find a team willing to push that to a second-round pick, and the trade is a no-brainer. For the franchise getting Bell on what would amount to a one-year rental, the risk of a second- or third-round pick might not be too much to part with for the potential Bell offers, and they’d still get that aforementioned third-round pick in 2020 if he left them instead.

Adding a conditional pick in the 2020 draft based on the trading team’s ability to sign Bell to a long-term deal could also help facilitate the deal. As it’s reasonable to assume that the team trading for him might well have agreed to contract terms in principle with Bell prior to the transaction, it seems credible to believe agreements could be made to everyone’s satisfaction — even if they can’t be written down (officially).

Contrary to arguments suggesting the Steelers’ trade partners are limited to any interested party with just under $12 million in salary-cap space currently available to accommodate Bells’ existing contract, it’s relatively easy for any franchise to restructure the deals of their existing players to create sufficient room. As per OverTheCap.com, all but five teams currently have more than $4 million in salary cap space available, and it wouldn’t take much for most of them to find the extra $8 million.

As of Monday, eight teams already have enough cap space in 2018, and virtually every team in the league could find a way to absorb a sizable long-term deal, what with only three teams projected to have less than $10 million in salary-cap space available next year.

Perhaps the biggest question at this stage should be which team will have the nerve to try and make such a bold move and how stubborn will Pittsburgh be about the compensation. With the second-most cap space in the league to play with at more than $51 million, the Indianapolis Colts could easily afford Bell and appear to have the need for his talents on offense. They haven’t been above making debatable trades in the past either or overpaying for certain big-name players on offense.

Assuming Pittsburgh wants to keep him out of the division, the Cleveland Browns have no chance of getting their hands on him, even with their $59 million in cap space. If Jimmy Garoppolo hadn’t potentially been knocked out for the season, the San Francisco 49ers might also have been in the running, but it feels more likely that a team willing to make this move will be one on the cusp of a championship, or one that’s desperate to avoid another disastrous season.

The Houston Texans are currently sitting with a spare $23 million and could well be interested, especially if Bill O’Brien hopes to rescue on 0-3 start for a team that looked to be contenders before the year began. Running back Lamar Miller has only one more year under contract with the Texans, and there can be little question Bell would be a significant upgrade who would seriously elevate that offense.

Ideally, Pittsburgh would move Bell out of the conference altogether, and a team like the Washington Redskins could also make a viable trade partner. While injured second-round draft pick Derrius Guice is possibly their back of the future, owner Daniel Snyder hasn’t been averse to making questionable moves in the past. If a 2-1 start has the Redskins feeling optimistic about the season, adding Bell into the mix might be something they could talk themselves into, even if Adrian Peterson has had an impressive start to the year for a 33-year-old running back. Having $10 million in cap space doesn't hurt either.

Both the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions look like they could use a player of Bell’s ability in the backfield, and neither are too far away from having the cap space needed to sign him already. For the Packers, he could be that missing championship piece, and for the Lions, bringing the former Michigan State product back home could inspire a fan base that has been suffering at the position ever since Barry Sanders retired.

However, none of the options mean anything if Bell isn’t interested in them and, if he’s looking for a particular location, he might have different ideas. Should he be looking to stay close to his recently adopted home of Miami, given his love of the local nightlife, the Dolphins could be a very credible option for him.

No income tax in the State of Florida has to be a major draw and the surprising, 3-0 Dolphins are certainly in need of a decent running back. Starter Kenyan Drake has been far from impressive through three games and Miami is another team with an owner willing to vastly overpay for name talent. With $8.5 million in cap room currently available, it wouldn’t take much effort to find the space.

If I was betting on which team Bell would be on by the end of the season, I would probably put a large amount of money on it being the Steelers, but if I was forced to pick another team, my guess would be the Dolphins.

Bold and Bizarre Predictions for Monday’s tangle in Tampa

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 7:05am

BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ contest on MNF with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

The Steelers post-loss Bizarro World continued last week with jet skis, porn star allegations, pledges to water-down the defensive playbook and a poutfest which was more bizarre than Ozzfest.

With all of these storylines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in the Week-1 contest:

  • The watered-down game plan for the defense isn’t a fix-all, but it offers up some improvement.
  • James Conner rebounds with a 100-yard performance, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson stay hot, but TE OJ Howard fails to get the free release that Travis Conner does a week ago.
  • Already in Florida, Le’Veon Bell jet skis from Miami and debuts his latest single, “Bloated When I $hould Be Loaded” from the giant ship in the end zone at RayJay.
  • Antonio Brown exceptionalism comes into full focus with a red-hot performance with double-digit catches for more than 150 yards, but he stays ice cold with reporters after the game.
  • Jason Pierre-Paul harasses Ben Roethlisberger continuously and records multiple sacks on the soon-to-be literary character.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, on the 242nd anniversary of Nathan Hale’s execution during the Revolutionary War, does a TD celebration in tribute to the alleged spy and is quoted as saying, “I only regret that I have but one celebration to perform for my country.”
  • True to his Tuesday presser proclamation, Mike Tomlin keeps his word and paints nothing with a broad brush.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick becomes the only player to throw for 400 yards and four TDs in three games.
  • Fitzpatrick wears the gimp suit (complete with red ball in mouth) from Pulp Fiction to the post-game presser.
  • Take the “over” on the score and also on the number of Stormy Daniels-related signs.
  • Final score: Steelers 38 Bucs 28

...

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

Steelers have more than $7M in salary-cap space after saving another week of Le’Veon Bell’s salary

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 6:08am

Pittsburgh looks set to rollover more salary cap space than ever before in 2019 with Le’Veon Bell’s third missed game of the year adding another $855,529 back into the account.

There are many downsides associated with Le’Veon Bell’s prolonged absence from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the impact on the team’s salary-cap position isn’t one of them. With every week Bell misses, the Steelers save $855,529.41. So far, he’s effectively given back $2,566,588.23.

For a team that seems perpetually short on cap space, any extra funds are always welcome and, with Bell’s effort to preserve his body for his new team likely to extend well into the season, the savings appear set to keep coming. Should the recent rumors about Pittsburgh’s willingness to entertain a trade amount to anything, the Steelers could ultimately find themselves with the full $14.544 million Bell was due to earn coming back onto the books.

While there’s nothing to be gained from having a surplus amount of salary-cap space right now, Pittsburgh is already poised to rollover more cap dollars into 2019 than ever before. If Bell sits out until the final deadline to report before Week 11, this would save the Steelers an additional $5,988,705.87 on the season and see them carry around $13 million into next year. But if Bell misses the entire season, Pittsburgh could rollover close to $19 million, barring any unforeseen expenses.

With the notable assistance of salary cap specialist Ian Whetstone, we have detailed all of the Steelers’ salary-cap costs so far this season and we’ve calculated they are $7,010,892 under the cap as of Monday, September 24 — a figure that puts them ahead of 14 other teams in the league for cap space based on numbers from OverTheCap.com.

For those wondering why our total is so different than some of the other published figures available, it’s worth noting that, although OverTheCap.com has the Steelers listed as being $7,508,482 under the cap, their figure doesn’t appear to include a recent injury protection payment made to Ladarius Green worth $550,000. While the NFLPA public salary cap report lists a total of $11,267,435, it should be pointed out that their figures have yet to be updated to reflect the end of the rule-of-51 period. For reasons that make no real sense, Spotrac have Pittsburgh with over $20 million in cap space after prematurely deleting Bell from the ledger altogether.

As per Whetstone, it’s unclear if the money forfeited by Bell each week is immediately available as salary cap funds this season as first expected, or if it will be returned to the account at the start of next season in the form of an adjustment. But with the free-agent market having been picked clean months ago, it’s relatively unimportant when the funds hit the books between now and next year.

Should you notice an error in our figures, please let us know in the comments section below.

Steelers News: Goal No. 1 for the Pittsburgh offense is getting off to a fast start vs. Tampa Bay

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 5:05am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are over the disappointment after the Kansas City Chiefs came into Heinz Field and dismantled the home team. Heading into Week 3, the team is now solely focused on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their prime-time matchup. Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-Gold Links article.

This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet, and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.

Today we focus on the fact the Steelers’ offense, although statistically impressive, needs to get off to better starts. Not just to start the game, but also on the first possession of the second half. Will they be able to do it vs. the Buccaneers on Monday night?

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers aiming for fast start on offense against Tampa Bay

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

When the Pittsburgh Steelers gave up the first 21 points to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday, it not only evoked disturbing memories of the January playoff loss to Jacksonville from a defensive standpoint, it also showcased the offense’s early shortcomings.

It wasn’t until the third drive that the Steelers got a first down. It wasn’t until the fourth that they got a touchdown.

Two games, two seasons, same venue, same scenario.

That the Steelers managed to tie the score against Kansas City — unlike that home playoff defeat eight months prior — did little to erase the issues created at the outset of the game.

“You need to start faster,” tight end Jesse James said. “We didn’t, obviously, and we put our defense in a bind early in the game.”

Counting that playoff loss, the Steelers (0-1-1) haven’t scored in the first quarter for three consecutive games, a streak they will try to snap Monday night at unbeaten Tampa Bay (2-0).

Through the first two weeks of the regular season, the Steelers were one of five teams that hadn’t produced any points in the opening 15 minutes. That had the Steelers grouped with the likes of Buffalo and Arizona, teams with 0-2 records heading into Sunday’s play, plus Philadelphia and Washington, who sported 1-1 records.

Establishing an early offensive rhythm against Tampa Bay not only will enable the Steelers to play with confidence, it will help quiet the crowd at Raymond James Stadium. And, perhaps most importantly, it will allow the Steelers to match scores with FitzMagic, the phenomenon created by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hot start. Thanks to Fitzpatrick, the Buccaneers are averaging 482 yards and 37.5 points.

“On the road, it’s definitely important to start fast,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “If you can put pressure on the other team, that’s always better.”

Kevin Gorman: Big-play Bucs present challenge for Steelers corners to cover

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers have reached the point where the secondary has become their primary concern, to the point where the thought of facing Ryan Fitzpatrick following Patrick Mahomes sends shivers down your spine.

And you thought tying the Browns was bad.

In the Monday Night Football game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Steelers’ cornerbacks face the NFL’s top passing offense through the first two weeks of the season.

That’s a challenge for the cornerbacks, a position at which the Steelers have invested a first-round pick in Artie Burns, a third-rounder in Cameron Sutton and a three-year, $27-million deal in Joe Haden. They need that investment to start paying off.

“I honestly think every week as a corner you have to take it personal,” Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh said. “It’s a passing league. The league wants to see a lot of points scored, fans want to see a lot of points scored, so as a corner you have to take it personal every week because most teams have numerous receivers that can play. Very seldom to do you find a team with no receivers.

“It’s more of a spotlight because it’s Monday Night Football, and everybody is watching. When you step on that field, your film is your resume. Every week, every play, you’ve got to be ready to go.”

The Bucs lead the league in passing yards per game (405) and passing yards per attempt (13.4). Journeyman Fitzpatrick has flourished in subbing for suspended starter Jameis Winston, delivering to big-play receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans and tight end O.J. Howard who Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler called “exceptional.”

“He understands what defenses are trying to do,” Butler said of Fitzpatrick, who has an 0-5 career record against the Steelers. “He knows who to read, who not to read and who’s what we call the ‘huckleberry’ on your defense — who he can try to take advantage of.”

The Steelers already might have identified the huckleberry on their own by benching Burns, their 2016 first-round draft pick. After Mahomes completed 23 of 28 passes for 326 yards and six touchdowns without an interception in the 42-37 loss to the Chiefs, the Steelers appear set to start Sensabaugh against the Bucs.

Steelers mull changes in secondary for Monday Night Football

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

The Steelers might be shaking up their cornerback lineup for Monday Night Football.

Veteran corner Coty Sensabaugh confirmed he received some first-team reps during Saturday’s practice, making him a potential starter over Artie Burns at the outside corner spot opposite Joe Haden.

Sensabaugh said Burns started the practice, and he isn’t sure what his role is for the Week 3 matchup with Tampa Bay. The Steelers are trying to tighten up after giving up 42 points to the Chiefs last week.

”I’m expecting to find out just like you guys,” Sensabaugh said. “Whenever my number is called, go in. Whenever they are taking me out, go out. Just going with the program.”

Burns, a first-round pick in 2016, has started 27 games in his career. He was part of a secondary that experienced multiple communication breakdowns on which Patrick Mahomes capitalized.

Six Steelers’ Slobberknockers for Week 3: A half-dozen questions for BTSC fans to discuss

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 4:08am

It’s game day!! HERE WE GO!

What the heck is a “slobberknocker?” In football terms, it’s a hit that, well, knocks the slobber right out of the other player’s mouth. I’ll be posing six hard-hitting questions to BTSC fans every game-day morning during the 2018 regular season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hit the road again later today, tangling with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. It’s an opportunity for the Steelers to redeem themselves following a tough loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at home. BTSC fans will watch every move and hold the Steelers accountable because they’re not your run-of-the-mill Steelers’ fans, but a cut above. They crave more in-depth commentary.

Q1: Tight end Travis Kelce tormented the Steelers defense last week — what adjustments will the defense have to make to hold O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate in check? Will the defense be able to accomplish this?

Q2: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert is a game-time decision — should he be held out so he’s not a liability or does further damage?

Q3: Are you comfortable offensive tackle Matt Feiler can fill in for an injured Gilbert?

A: You will eat your wings and drink your beer with a smile knowing he will do his job.

B: You will fidget all day and worry.

C: Feiler starting gives you flashbacks of former Steeler, Mike Adams.

Q4: How confident are you with either Coty Sensabaugh or Cameron Sutton replacing a struggling Artie Burns? Is Burns being made the scapegoat or is he the issue with the defense?

Q5: Which Tampa Bay wideout worries you more, DeSean Jackson (9-275-3) or Mike Evans (17-230-2)? What is your prediction for their stat lines?

Q6: Do you blame the defensive issues on the scheme or the personnel on the field? What can the Steelers do to energize this defense?

The demoralizing loss at the hands of the Chiefs has Black-and-gold fans wondering if the team’s championship hopes are over already. A Week-3 win would go a long way to squash such pessimistic talk. Fourteen more games remain in the season, but every loss matters. The Steelers need to take the season week to week, and the first hurdle to doing so is to beat the Buccaneers. Will the Steelers be able to answer the above questions positively?

Week 3 Late Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/23/2018 - 3:02pm

The Steelers don’t play until Monday night, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 3.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t on their bye week, but Sundays without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers slated to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 on Monday Night Football, the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games today to see how things shake out.

Some take this day to just relax and get caught up on things outside of football, but if you are like me, you are still watching the full slate of action on Sunday.

With that said, join others like me in the open thread to talk about all of the games going on Sunday. Which game are you watching? Are you someone with NFL Sunday Ticket who has access to all games, or are you stuck watching just one or two games? Let us know, and be sure to keep tabs on all those AFC North games in the process.

As always, remember we are all here for the same reason...

GO STEELERS!

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