Bucs’ second-half rally falls just short in 30-27 loss to Steelers
Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times, published 25 September 2018

Ryan Fitzpatrick's magic seemed to wear off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he had enough tricks to make it interesting. Fitzpatrick was intercepted on three consecutive passes in the first half to fall behind by 20 points. But the Bucs veteran quarterback rallied the Bucs to within a field goal with touchdown passes to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans in the second half.

Unfortunately, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was better, completing 30-of-38 passes for 353 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in a 30-27 win over the Bucs. The loss dropped the Bucs to 2-1 while the Steelers improved to 1-1-1. Fitzpatrick finished 30-of-50 passing for 411 yards with three touchdowns and three INTs.

The Bucs got off to a fast start Monday. On the Steelers' second series of the game, safety Justin Evans intercepted a pass from Roethlisberger intended for Ju Ju Smith-Schuster at the Tampa Bay 47.

The Bucs didn't waste any time jumping on that turnover. Fitzpatrick hit Mike Evans for 13 yards and tight end O.J. Howard for 14 before Peyton Barber escaped for a 14-yard run. On first-and-goal, Fitzpatrick zipped a 4-yard TD pass in the middle of the end zone to tight end Cameron Brate. It was Brate's first catch of the season.

The Steelers answered right back. On third down, Roethlisberger found right end Vance McDonald in the left flat. McDonald stiff-armed safety Chris Conte to the ground at midfield and rumbled for a 75-yard touchdown. But Steelers kicker Chris Boswell missed the PAT and the Bucs still led 7-6 with 5:48 left in the first quarter.

A 10-yard sack of Fitzpatrick killed one Bucs drive. And the Steelers kept digging themselves out of poor field position. Roethlisberger found Smith-Schuster for 43 yards as Brent Grimes mis-timed his leap. Gerald McCoy was also called for roughing the passer on the play.

A fumble after a reception by Chris Godwin at the Tampa Bay 33-yard line set up the Steelers' next touchdown. On second down, Roethlisberger threw a pass to the right sideline to Brown, who broke tackles by cornerback Brent Grimes and Justin Evans and high-stepped into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown. That play extended the Steelers lead to 16-7 with 10:33 remaining in the first half.

Fitzpatrick threw two more interceptions before he could get the Bucs out of the first half. The second one was an overthrow to Jacquizz Rodgers that Bud Dupree returned 10 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Steelers a 23-7 lead.

The Bucs had a chance to get it right back when Mike Evans hauled in a 51-yard pass from Fitzpatrick. But on third and goal from the Steelers 3-yard line, Godwin was unable to hold onto a contested pass in the back of the end zone. The Bucs settled for a 20-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro to cut the lead to 23-10.

Fitzpatrick kept firing. Despite three roughing-the-passer penalties and getting sacked four times through three quarters, he got the Bucs to within 30-20 on his TD pass to Godwin with 11:06 remaining in the game.

His touchdown pass to Evans cut the lead to a field goal. The Bucs got the ball back with plenty of time to get within field-goal range, but Fitzpatrick fired incomplete three straight times and the Steelers ran out the clock with two first downs.