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Steelers hold on to defeat Bucs, 30-27

The Steelers got in the win column with a 30-27 victory over Tampa Bay, holding off a late surge by the Bucs.

“That was a tough, hard-fought game. Appreciate the efforts of the guys,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “I thought the penalties kind of marred the game. There were a lot of penalties on us and them. We will look at it and learn from it. I thought the guys played extremely hard. We’ve got to learn to play hard and smart as we move forward. I will look at the tape and look at some of those penalties and analyze it and see where we can get better.”

The Steelers were penalized 13 times for 155 yards but were able to overcome them.

“Really appreciate the efforts,” said Tomlin. “Made the necessary plays. All 53 in there fought through a week and came into a stadium, primetime on the road, and got a necessary win.”

Ben Roethlisberger came out firing, completing 30 of 38 passes for 353 yards, three touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 120.7.

“What a crazy game,” said Roethlisberger. “We will take a win any way we can get it. I am proud of the way the guys fought all the way until the end.”

The defense accounted for four turnovers, three interceptions including a pick six by Bud Dupree, and a fumble recovery.

The Steelers were up 30-10 at the half, but the Bucs scored 17 unanswered points in the second half. When needed, though, the defense stopped the Bucs and Roethlisberger was able to just take a knee on the final three plays of the game.

Both teams opened the game with a three-and-out, with Joe Haden making his presence known right off the bat. Haden, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, broke up a pass to Chris Godwin on third down, forcing the Bucs to punt on their first drive.

The Steelers offense got rolling on their second drive when Ben Roethlisberger hit James Conner for 10 yards, and Vance McDonald for 14 yards. Things stalled after that when Roethlisberger’s pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster was intercepted by Justin Evans, and the Bucs took over at their own 47-yard line.

The Bucs took advantage with a series of big plays. Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Mike Evans for 14 yards, and O.J. Howard for 13 yards. Peyton Barber broke free for an 18-yard gain to the four-yard line, and Fitzpatrick found Cameron Brate open in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown, taking a 7-0 lead.

It took no time for the Steelers to come fighting right back. Roethlisberger hit McDonald, who stiff-armed Chris Conte taking him to the ground, and took it 75 yards for the touchdown. Chris Boswell’s extra point hit the upright, pulling them to within one, 7-6.

Jon Bostic got called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a hit on Fitzpatrick on a scramble, and a 21-yard completion to Brate had the Bucs rolling. But the defense stepped up, with Anthony Chickillo sacking Fitzpatrick for a nine-yard loss, forcing the punt.

The Steelers took their first lead of the night, 9-7, when Boswell’s 38-yard field goal capped a nine-play, 72-yard drive.

Another big play by the defense gave the Steelers the ball right back. Fitzpatrick completed a 12-yard pass to Godwin, but Artie Burns knocked the ball loose and Mike Hilton recovered.

The Steelers took advantage of the turnover and did it in no time flat. It took just two plays for the Steelers to extend their lead to 16-7, when Antonio Brown caught a pass short and took it 27 yards for the touchdown.

A 27-yard completion to Mike Evans, with a 15-yard penalty on Sean Davis for a hit out of bounds tacked on, got the Bucs started on their next drive. Bud Dupree brought the pressure on Fitzpatrick, who somehow escaped and found Godwin for a 20-yard completion to the 12-yard line. The defense came up with another huge play just when needed. Bostic tipped Fitzpatrick’s pass, and Hilton intercepted at the six-yard line, where the offense took over.

The offense wasn’t able to take advantage this time, but got another opportunity when Terrell Edmunds picked off Fitzpatrick for his first career interception. The Bucs defense was swarming, though, sacking Roethlisberger twice on the ensuing drive and forcing another punt.

Darrius Heyward-Bey downed Jordan Berry’s punt at the two-yard line, burying the Bucs deep in their own territory. And the defense made them pay. Dupree picked off Fitzpatrick, and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown, extending the lead to 23-7.

Despite the three interceptions, Fitzpatrick didn’t back down and went deep to Evans, completing a 51-yarder to the Steelers five-yard line. The defense held, forcing the Bucs to settle for a Chandler Catanzaro 21-yard field goal.

The Steelers had one more chance before the half, and Roethlisberger went to work starting at their own 25-yard line with 1:15 to play and three timeouts. Roethlisberger completed eight of nine passes for 74 yards, including a one-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Switzer, sending the Steelers into the half ahead, 30-10.

The Bucs had a 56-yard touchdown overturned when Godwin was ruled down by contact on their opening drive of the second half. And the defense was bound not to let them get in the end zone after that. Despite having a first-and-goal at the six-yard line, the Bucs had to settle for a 28-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 30-13.

Roethlisberger remained hot on the next drive, hitting Smith-Schuster for 15 yards, and Washington for 12. But the drive was stopped when Roethlisberger was sacked, forcing a fumble that B.J. Finney recovered. And then Boswell’s 47-yard field goal went off the upright, missing out on a chance to extend the lead.

The Bucs chipped away at the lead again when Fitzpatrick took them on a 12-play, 63-yard drive, that culminated with a four-yard touchdown pass to Godwin, cutting the lead to 30-20. The Bucs faced a fourth-and-six on the drive and were able to convert, keeping the drive alive.

DeSean Jackson had an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by a penalty, and instead of a score the Bucs started at their own eight-yard line. Fitzpatrick hit Howard for 21 yards, and Jackson for 12 yards to the 43-yard line. Fitzpatrick scrambled for 17 yards for a first down to move into Steelers territory. Howard picked up 16 yards on the catch and run to the 24-yard line, before Burns broke up a pass to Jackson. Fitzpatrick capped it off hitting Evans for a 24-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 30-27.

The Steelers went to the ground on the ensuing drive, with James Conner rattling off a 27-yard run, followed up by a nine-yard run. Roethlisberger got the first down on the quarterback sneak. Conner was knocked for a loss of four yards, and Roethlisberger couldn’t connect with Brown on third down, forcing a punt.

The defense was able to hold the Bucs, giving the Steelers the ball back with 2:36 to play. Roethlisberger did what he does best, getting away from pressure and hitting Smith-Schuster for 18-yards. Conner took it off left guard for 17 yards to the Bucs 33-yard line with two minutes left on the clock, and they were able to just run time off the clock.

A look at how they scored:

First Quarter: Steelers 0, Buccaneers 7
Scoring Play: Ryan Fitzpatrick four-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brate.
Scoring Summary: 5-53-2:34

First Quarter: Steelers 6, Buccaneers 7
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 75-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald. Chris Boswell missed the extra point.
Scoring Summary: 3-75-1:33

Second Quarter: Steelers 9, Buccaneers 7
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 38-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 9-72-4:45

Second Quarter: Steelers 16, Buccaneers 7
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown for a 27-yard touchdown.
Scoring Summary: 2-33-0:47

Second Quarter: Steelers 23, Buccaneers 7
Scoring Play: Bud Dupree 23-yard interception return.

Second Quarter: Steelers 23, Buccaneers 10
Scoring Play: Chandler Catanzaro 21-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 6-75-1:35

Second Quarter: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 10
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger one-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Switzer.
Scoring Summary: 9-75-1:09

Third Quarter: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 13
Scoring Play: Chandler Catanzaro 28-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 14-65-7:53

Third Quarter: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 20
Scoring Play: Ryan Fitzpatrick four-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.
Scoring Summary: 12-63-5:00

Third Quarter: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 13
Scoring Play: Chandler Catanzaro 28-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 14-65-7:53

Third Quarter: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 20
Scoring Play: Ryan Fitzpatrick four-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.
Scoring Summary: 12-63-5:00

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 27
Scoring Play: Ryan Fitzpatrick 24-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans.
Scoring Summary: 9-92-2:57

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