Advertising

Big Defensive Days Mark Bucs-Steelers History

vn

Exactly 20 seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured their first win ever against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fittingly, the Buccaneers' head coach at the time was Tony Dungy, who played for the mighty Steelers of the '70s when the Buccaneers' franchise was born. (The Buccaneers started play in 1976; Dungy was with Pittsburgh in 1977 and 1978.)

Dungy learned his coaching philosophies from Chuck Noll and certainly inherited his defensive acumen. When the Buccaneers rose back to prominence under Dungy after a long run of darkness, it was a powerful new defense that lifted them up. And, fittingly again, it was that defense which led the Buccaneers to their 16-3 win over the Steelers in 1998. More on that below.

Otherwise, the Buccaneers only other win in the series came in the last meeting, in Pittsburgh in 2014. The head coach of the Steelers was then and still is now Mike Tomlin, who first entered the NFL as an assistant on Dungy's Tampa Bay staff in 2001. The Buccaneers' head coach in that game was Lovie Smith, who also entered the league as an assistant on a Dungy staff, in 1996. To bring this full circle, the Buccaneers will honor Dungy at halftime of the upcoming Buccaneers-Steelers game on Monday night, making him the newest member of their Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.

Here's the series scoreboard (regular season only):

Tampa Bay: 2

Pittsburgh: 8

Buccaneers' Highlights:

1. Tampa Bay 16, Pittsburgh 3, Dec. 13, 1998

After breaking a 15-year playoff drought the year before, the Buccaneers had high hopes in Dungy's third year but stumbled out of the gate with a 1-3 start. After clawing back to .500 at midseason, Tampa Bay promptly dropped three straight close decisions to Tennessee, Jacksonville and Detroit. They managed one more rally, winning four of their last five to narrowly miss the playoffs. One of the most dominant – if not exactly thrilling – wins in that stretch was over Pittsburgh in Week 15. Tampa Bay's defense completely stifled Kordell Stewart through the air and on the ground, allowing him just nine completions for 88 yards and five runs for 10 yards. They also picked Stewart and brief sub Mike Tomczak off four times, two by John Lynch, and got a sack of each passer from Steve White. Meanwhile, the Bucs ran on 45 of 64 plays, with Mike Alstott getting 14 of his 24 carries in the fourth quarter.

2. Tampa Bay 27, Pittsburgh 24, Sept. 28, 2014

The Bucs came into this one with an 0-3 record in Smith's first year at the helm. Pittsburgh was 2-1 and would go on to finish 11-5. But this was the Bucs' day, as the game was only a minute old when Michael Johnson sacked Ben Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Bucs at the Pittsburgh nine. Mike Glennon would hit Mike Evans on a seven-yard touchdown pass two plays later. Pittsburgh managed to tie it, 10-10, with an Antonio Brown touchdown catch at the very end of the first quarter, then took the lead later in the second period when Brown scored again from 27 yards out. A Doug Martin touchdown run knotted it back up midway through the third, but the Bucs found themselves trailing, 24-20, with two minutes left as they faced a first down at the Steelers' 14. The game appeared to be lost when the next four passes, including a trick-play toss by running back Bobby Rainey, fell incomplete. However, the Bucs managed to force a punt with 50 seconds left and got it back near midfield after a bad punt. Glennon hit Louis Murphy on a 41-yard pass down to the five and three plays later, on third-and-goal with 12 seconds left, Vincent Jackson made a diving catch near the left edge of the end zone for the game-winning score.

3. Pittsburgh 24, Tampa Bay 21, Nov. 9, 1980

Obviously, when your team only has two wins in an all-time head-to-head series, you have to stretch it a bit to come up with three highlighted games. Probably the most notable of the Buccaneers' eight losses to Pittsburgh occurred in 1980, when the Steelers were the defending Super Bowl champs for the fourth time in a six-year span. Of course, by this point the Bucs' young franchise had also risen into contention, making it all the way to the NFC Championship Game the year before. They lost to the Rams and thus didn't get to take on the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV, but they did get Pittsburgh at Tampa Stadium in November of 1980. The Buccaneers were able to move the ball against Pittsburgh's legendary defense, actually winning the yardage battle, 369 to 229. But they also turned it over three times, including on an interception by Donnie Shell at the Steelers' eight-yard line with five minutes to go. Doug Williams threw three touchdown passes for the Buccaneers.

Steelers' Highlights:

1. Pittsburgh 17, Tampa Bay 7, Dec. 23, 2002

Only three teams beat the Buccaneers in 2002 throughout the regular season and postseason, and the Steelers were the last to do so. Both teams nearly had their respective divisions sewn up by the time they met on Monday Night Football in Week 16 but the Saints still had an outside chance to catch Tampa Bay and had already beaten the eventual champs twice. Furthermore, the Buccaneers were playing without quarterback Brad Johnson, who had sustained a back injury against the Lions in Week 15. Rob Johnson had started in Carolina in Week Eight when Brad Johnson was ill, but this time the team turned to Shaun King. That turned out poorly when King's second pass of the game was intercepted by Chad Scott and returned 30 yards for a touchdown. Moments earlier, Tommy Maddox had capped the night's opening drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El, so the Steelers were up 14-0 before four minutes had elapsed. The Bucs had a chance to get back into it in the second quarter but an Alstott fumble at the Steelers' seven killed that drive. Rob Johnson eventually subbed in for King and completed 12 of 18 passes, including a touchdown to Keyshawn Johnson, but it was too little, too late.

2. Pittsburgh 17, Tampa Bay 10, Oct. 21, 2001

The Steelers had also visited Raymond James Stadium the year before for another game with a similar final score and a similarly dominant performance by the Pittsburgh defense. Brad Johnson completed 24 of 40 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown but he was sacked an incredible 10 times, matching the most sacks the Buccaneers had ever allowed in a game. Joey Porter had four of those sacks and Kimo Von Oelhoffen had three. The Steelers also broke up 11 of Johnson's passes, including five by Dewayne Washington. Ronde Barber intercepted Kordell Stewart twice to keep the Bucs in the game but nobody could stop powerful running back Jerome Bettis. Not only did Bettis run 17 times for 146 yards and a touchdown but he also threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jerame Tuman.

3. Pittsburgh 42, Tampa Bay 0, Dec. 5, 1976

This might have been one of the greatest mismatches in NFL history. Not only were the expansion Buccaneers in the midst of a 26-game losing streak, but their already weak roster had been decimated by injuries by this point in the season. The Buccaneers went to Pittsburgh to play the defending Super Bowl champs on a windy, 28-degree day and never had a chance. For their part, the Steelers didn't bother throwing the ball much, though Terry Bradshaw did complete six of his eight passes and throw for two touchdowns before giving way to Mike Kruczek. Meanwhile, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier and company ran 58 times for 222 yards and four touchdowns. Led by former Steeler Terry Hanratty in his only start as a Buccaneer, the visitors gained 105 total yards of offense and turned it over four times. Hanratty threw four passes, completing one for negative-one yard and suffering one interception and one sack before giving way to Steve Spurrier.

Bucs' Top Performers Against Steelers:

Among players currently on the roster, here are a few Buccaneers who have fared well against the Steelers.

·    QB Ryan Fitzpatrick…5 games, 110 of 187 passing for 1,114 yards, 6 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 222.8 passing yards per game

·    WR DeSean Jackson…3 games, 15 catches for 200 yards, 13.3 yards per reception

·    LB Lavonte David…1 game, 12 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble

Steelers' Top Performers Against Bucs:

·    QB Ben Roethlisberger…2 games, 41 of 65 passing for 512 yards, five touchdowns, 1 interception, 106.7 passer rating

·    WR Antonio Brown…2 games, 7 catches for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns, 18.7 yards per reception

·    S Morgan Burnett...3 games, 24 tackles, 0.5 sacks

Bucs-Steelers Game-by-Game Record:

The Bucs came into this one with an 0-3 record in Smith's first year at the helm. Pittsburgh was 2-1 and would go on to finish 11-5. But this was the Bucs' day, as the game was only a minute old when Michael Johnson sacked Ben Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Bucs at the Pittsburgh nine. Mike Glennon would hit Mike Evans on a seven-yard touchdown pass two plays later. Pittsburgh managed to tie it, 10-10, with an Antonio Brown touchdown catch at the very end of the first quarter, then took the lead later in the second period when Brown scored again from 27 yards out. A Doug Martin touchdown run knotted it back up midway through the third, but the Bucs found themselves trailing, 24-20, with two minutes left as they faced a first down at the Steelers' 14. The game appeared to be lost when the next four passes, including a trick-play toss by running back Bobby Rainey, fell incomplete. However, the Bucs managed to force a punt with 50 seconds left and got it back near midfield after a bad punt. Glennon hit Louis Murphy on a 41-yard pass down to the five and three plays later, on third-and-goal with 12 seconds left, Vincent Jackson made a diving catch near the left edge of the end zone for the game-winning score.

3. Pittsburgh 24, Tampa Bay 21, Nov. 9, 1980

Obviously, when your team only has two wins in an all-time head-to-head series, you have to stretch it a bit to come up with three highlighted games. Probably the most notable of the Buccaneers' eight losses to Pittsburgh occurred in 1980, when the Steelers were the defending Super Bowl champs for the fourth time in a six-year span. Of course, by this point the Bucs' young franchise had also risen into contention, making it all the way to the NFC Championship Game the year before. They lost to the Rams and thus didn't get to take on the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV, but they did get Pittsburgh at Tampa Stadium in November of 1980. The Buccaneers were able to move the ball against Pittsburgh's legendary defense, actually winning the yardage battle, 369 to 229. But they also turned it over three times, including on an interception by Donnie Shell at the Steelers' eight-yard line with five minutes to go. Doug Williams threw three touchdown passes for the Buccaneers.

Steelers' Highlights:

1. Pittsburgh 17, Tampa Bay 7, Dec. 23, 2002

Only three teams beat the Buccaneers in 2002 throughout the regular season and postseason, and the Steelers were the last to do so. Both teams nearly had their respective divisions sewn up by the time they met on Monday Night Football in Week 16 but the Saints still had an outside chance to catch Tampa Bay and had already beaten the eventual champs twice. Furthermore, the Buccaneers were playing without quarterback Brad Johnson, who had sustained a back injury against the Lions in Week 15. Rob Johnson had started in Carolina in Week Eight when Brad Johnson was ill, but this time the team turned to Shaun King. That turned out poorly when King's second pass of the game was intercepted by Chad Scott and returned 30 yards for a touchdown. Moments earlier, Tommy Maddox had capped the night's opening drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El, so the Steelers were up 14-0 before four minutes had elapsed. The Bucs had a chance to get back into it in the second quarter but an Alstott fumble at the Steelers' seven killed that drive. Rob Johnson eventually subbed in for King and completed 12 of 18 passes, including a touchdown to Keyshawn Johnson, but it was too little, too late.

2. Pittsburgh 17, Tampa Bay 10, Oct. 21, 2001

The Steelers had also visited Raymond James Stadium the year before for another game with a similar final score and a similarly dominant performance by the Pittsburgh defense. Brad Johnson completed 24

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 12.09.14 PM copy

Series Notes:

·    Overall Season Series: Steelers lead, 8-2

·    Bucs' Home Record: 1-5

·    Bucs' Road Record: 1-3

·    Current Streak: Win 1 (2014)

·    Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 1 (1998, 2014)

·    Steelers' Longest Winning Streak: 4 (1976-89, 2001-10)

·    Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 131, Steelers 233

·    Most Points in a Game for Tampa Bay: Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24 (2014)

·    Most Points in a Game for Pittsburgh: Steelers 42, Buccaneers 0 (1976)

·    Most Points, combined: Steelers, 31, Buccaneers 22 (1989)

·    Fewest Points in a Game for Tampa Bay: Steelers 42, Buccaneers 0 (1976)

·    Fewest Points in a Game for Pittsburgh: Buccaneers 16, Pittsburgh 3 (1998)

·    Fewest Points in a Game, combined: Buccaneers 16, Pittsburgh 3 (1998)

Related Content

Advertising