|5:15 PM PT6:15 PM MT7:15 PM CT8:15 PM ET0:15 GMT8:15 5:15 PM MST7:15 PM EST7:15 PM CT4:15 UAE (+1)20:15 ETNaN:� , September 24, 2018|
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida Weather: 77°, Cloudy Attendance: 62,571
Steelers try to stop throwing Fitz, Buccaneers
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- These teams have faced off 10 times, with the Steelers winning eight of them. However, Tampa Bay came out on top the last time they met, getting a 27-24 win in Pittsburgh in 2014. The Steelers' 8-2 record against the Bucs is their second best against any team (minimum 8 GP; vs. Atlanta -- 13-2-1).
- Pittsburgh has started without a win in its first two games for the first time since 2013, when it opened 0-4 en route to an 8-8 season. The 63 points allowed by the Steelers in the first two games are the most since they gave up 72 in their first two games of the 1991 season.
- Ben Roethlisberger attempted 60 passes last week, second most in his career -- he attempted 66 in Week 14 last season. His 452 yards were the fifth most in his career. When throwing for more than 380 yards, Roethlisberger is 4-12 in his career.
- The Bucs are 2-0 for the first time since 2010, when they finished 10-6 - their best record since 2005 (11-5). Their 75 points are by far their most through two games in franchise history -- their previous best was 62 in the 2000 season.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for eight touchdowns in two games after throwing for just seven in six games (three starts) last season. The previous franchise high for touchdown passes through two team games was five, by Jameis Winston in 2016 and Steve DeBerg in 1987.
- The Buccaneers have converted 52.2 percent of their third downs, second best in the NFL (Indianapolis, 60.6). However, the Steelers' defense has allowed opponents to convert just 30.4 percent of third downs, tied for fourth best in the league.
- Eagles' Wentz out vs. Rams due to back
- Texans hoping to bounce back vs. Jets
- Browns, Broncos look to resume late push
- Beckham out again with quad injury
- Steelers RB Conner questionable vs. Pats
The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to a rough start -- on and off the field -- and it doesn't figure to get any easier when they visit the suddenly potent Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.
Pittsburgh first-team All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell is holding out and first-team All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown didn't report for work Monday, and implied on Twitter that he wanted to be traded. But the Steelers' biggest problem could be Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick became the first player to record back-to-back 400-yard, four-touchdown games to start a season, and could be licking his chops after Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes tossed six touchdown passes in the visiting Chiefs' 42-37 victory over the Steelers last week.
Brown showed up for work Wednesday, and Roethlisberger said he's not concerned about Brown's role in the offense.
The Chiefs doubled Brown for much of the game, which allowed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jesse James to each get more than 100 receiving yards.
"He's been garnering a lot of attention for a long time now," Roethlisberger said of Brown. "I think it's early in the season. In the first game, we had some elements that didn't let me get him the ball to him as much as I should have. Last week they put a lot of guys on him. But other guys were open too. I'm not worried about A.B. He'll be just fine."
Brown's production isn't up to his usual standards, but he still has 18 receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown. Rather than use social media to voice his frustrations, or have sideline confrontations with his coaches, Roethlisberger would rather Brown come to him with any grievances.
"He's not the only guy who gets frustrated in games," Roethlisberger said. "We all get frustrated. When you're the best in the world, you might get a little more frustrated than others. A.B. is a very passionate football player. We all know that. Fans know that. That's what makes him special -- the passion for this game and the passion to be great. So we're not going to take that away from him.
"When he's getting frustrated in games, I just want him to stay with me and talk to me, communicate with me and let me know. If I missed you on something, or if you're getting open and I didn't see it, let's just talk and communicate."
Buccaneers fans have embraced Fitzpatrick, who has completed 78.7 percent of his passes, in a big way, with some wearing faux beards to the game.
"His numbers are off the charts," Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said of Fitzpatrick, who is playing because Jameis Winston is suspended for the first four weeks. "So how would you expect everybody to respond? Of course, our team is playing well. They're doing something not many thought they could. We have a good locker room of guys believing each other right now. So any player that's playing well and backing it up with his play."
Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been the biggest beneficiary of Fitzpatrick's play, leading the NFL in receiving yards with 275 yards. His three touchdowns matches his 2017 total.
Defensively, the Buccaneers face a huge challenge against Roethlisberger, who is second to Fitzpatrick with 787 yards. Tampa Bay (2-0) was without both starting cornerbacks last week. Brent Grimes has missed two games with a groin injury and Vernon Hargreaves is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury he suffered in the season opener.
That puts some pressure on rookie cornerbacks Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart. The Buccaneers could also be without safety Chris Conte (knee), which would force rookie Jordan Whitehead in the lineup.
The Steelers' secondary could receive a boost from cornerback Joe Haden, who missed the Chiefs game because of a hamstring injury but returned to practice and is expected to play Monday. He will draw the assignment on Jackson.
Pittsburgh (0-1-1) appears to have the advantage in the rushing game with James Conner filling in admirably for Bell. Conner had 135 yards in the opener against the Browns, but was held to 17 yards on eight carries against the Chiefs because the Steelers fell behind early.
Pittsburgh leads the series 8-2 but the Buccaneers won the last encounter 27-24 at Heinz Field in 2014 on a last-second TD pass from Mike Glennon to Vincent Jackson.
Updated September 20, 2018