The highs and lows of the Steelers first preseason game of 2019 vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
COIN TOSS: Buccaneers call heads. It’s heads. Tampa Bay elects to receive.
7:44 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The Steelers defense that took the field for the opening possession contained only three players who are expected to start once the regular season opens – Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, and Javon Hargrave. And the Buccaneers took advantage by putting together a 12-play, 81-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to Chris Godwin on a quick wide receiver screen. Winston attacked rookie cornerback Justin Layne on three different occasions, and the result were completions of 11 yards, 11 yards, and 9 yards for the touchdown.
7:51 p.m. – What Went Wrong: It started with a penalty on the kickoff – holding on Terrell Edmunds that forced the Steelers to start their first possession at their own 7-yard line. But after a 1-yard loss on a run to Jaylen Samuels, Josh Dobbs lofted a rainbow down the middle of the field that James Washington went up and got for a 43-yard gain. But a sack on second-and-four, and then an overthrow by Dobbs on third-and-12 brought Jordan Berry on for his first punt of the game.
8:07 p.m. – What Went Right: One way to explain it is that it’s the preseason for the officials, too. After Devin Bush dumped Peyton Barber for a 3-yard loss to set up a third-and-5 from the Tampa Bay 10-yard line, Bush then almost intercepted a pass in the left flat for what looked like a three-and-out. But Tyson Alualu was flagged for roughing quarterback Blaine Gabbert, which then gave the Buccaneers new life with a first down at their 30-yard line. But after Tampa Bay drove to a fourth-and-1 at the Steelers 15-yard line and elected to go for it, Bush teamed with Ola Adeniyi to dump Andre Ellington for a 2-yard loss and turn the ball over to the Pittsburgh offense.
8:25 p.m. – What Went Right: Josh Dobbs accounted for 66 yards and converted three third downs on three plays over the course of a 14-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal by Chris Boswell, but only one of those three plays was a pass. Dobbs converted a third-and-21 with a 22-yard pass to James Washington, he converted a third-and-4 with an 8-yard run, and he converted a third-and-9 with a 36-yard scramble to the Tampa Bay 17-yard line. It appeared Dobbs had thrown a 15-yard touchdown pass to Washington, but it was ruled incomplete because Washington allegedly didn’t get his second foot down inbounds.
8:42 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers took a 10-7 lead with 1:56 remaining in the first half on a seven-play, 64-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Mason Rudolph to James Washington. Rudolph completed 3-of-3 for 29 yards, including the touchdown, which came on a perfect back-shoulder throw to his college teammate. Washington also caught an 11-yard pass on the drive, and Jaylen Samuels converted a third-and-1 with a 22-yard run to the Tampa Bay 8-yard line.
8:47 p.m. – What Went Right: Takeaway No. 1 came on second-and-2 from the Buccaneers 33-yard line when Tyler Matakevich strip-sacked Ryan Griffin and Lavon Hooks recovered at the Tampa Bay 27-yard line. And the drive ended with another Chris Boswell field goal, his second of the game, from 47-yards to give the Steelers a 13-7 lead with 1:03 left in the first half.
8:58 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The Steelers saw their lead halved after a 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. The seven-play, 52-yard drive started with a 24-yard catch by Tanner Hudson and the other big play was a 10-yard completion to Bryant Mitchell.
9:31 p.m. – What Went Right: After their own offensive possession ended with a three-and-out, Ian Berryman’s punt traveled 66-yards for a touchback. After one first down, the Buccaneers were forced into a punting situation when Robert Spillane broke up a third down pass. Following the Buccaneers’ punt, Mason Rudolph threw a short pass that Johnny Holton turned into a 59-yard gain with some nice broken-field running. Two plays later, Rudolph threw his second touchdown pass, from 3 yards out, to rookie TE Zach Gentry. The Steelers led, 20-10, with 9:25 remaining in the third quarter.
9:50 p.m. – What Went Wrong: Tampa Bay cut into the Steelers’ lead with an 8-play, 76-yard drive that was capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Dare Ogunbowale. Ryan Griffin converted two situations with completions to Justin Watson – a 5-yard pass on a third-and-3, and then a 21-yard completion on a second-and-20. The Buccaneers failed on a two-point conversion attempt, and the Steelers led, 20-16.
10:06 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers answered the Buccaneers with a touchdown drive of their own – an eight-play, 76-yard march that was capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Devlin Hodges to Tevin Jones with 14:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. The other key play on the drive was a screen pass to Benny Snell that gained 20 yards to convert a second-and-20 from the Tampa Bay 30-yard line. Also, Zach Gentry caught two passes for 14 yards on the drive.
10:17 p.m. – What Went Right: It was a third-and-2 from the Tampa Bay 41-yard line, and when Ryan Griffin dropped back to pass, he was sacked almost immediately by linebacker Tuzar Skipper for an 8-yard loss. When Diontae Spencer returned the ensuing punt for 32 yards, the Steelers offense took over at the Tampa Bay 43-yard line with a 27-16 lead and 11:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.
10:27 – What Went Right: The Steelers extended their lead to 30-16 after Matthew Wright converted a 42-yard field goal to cap a seven-play drive that covered 19 yards. If there was a negative here, it was that the Steelers offense ran seven plays with an 11-point lead and only drained 2:23 off the clock. There was 9:14 left in the fourth quarter.
10:41 – What Went Wrong: Tampa Bay drove 76 yards in 13 plays with the touchdown coming on a 4-yard pass to Tanner Hudson. The Steelers defense had a chance to get off the field when third-and-goal pass from the 8-yard line was incomplete, but linebacker J.T. Jones jumped offside. On fourth-and-goal, Ryan Griffin threw the touchdown pass. The Steelers did turn back the Buccaneers on the two-point conversion attempt when Ulysees Gilbert intercepted Pickett’s pass. There was 4:47 remaining, and the Steelers led, 30-22.
11:03 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers defense repelled the Buccaneers’ two-point conversion attempt with 10 seconds left that would’ve tied the game, 30-30, and even though Pittsburgh came out of this preseason opener with a 30-28 victory, it didn’t have to be this close. A strip-sack by Ulysees Gilbert had the football bouncing freely in the neighborhood of the Pittsburgh 30-yard line, and instead of simply falling on the ball to secure the victory, defensive back P.J. Locke tried to scoop and score, but he was unable to secure the ball and the Buccaneers eventually recovered. But some last-second luck helped the Steelers avoid what’s always a disaster in the preseason: overtime.
FINAL SCORE: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 28