The Steelers upset the Buccaneers 20-18 on Sunday, snapping their four-game losing streak. Here are the studs and duds from the huge victory.
The Steelers beat the odds this week, defeating the Buccaneers 20-18 in stunning fashion. Even with most of their secondary out due to injury, the defense was the driving force behind the upset. The Steelers even had to go to Mitch Trubisky for a chunk of the game after Kenny Pickett suffered a concussion. Despite all that, the Steelers came away with a potential season-saving victory. Let’s take a look at the best and worst performances in the thrilling win.
Steelers defense, Chase Claypool leads list of studs against Bucs
Steelers defense steps up big without Minkah, corners
The Steelers injury report was ugly for this Sunday, with their entire starting secondary besides Terrell Edmunds out for the game. Asking guys like James Pierre, Arthur Maulet, and Josh Jackson to handle the Buccaneers receivers seemed like too much. They played brilliantly for most of the game, however, limiting Brady to just 243 yards on 40 attempts. They didn’t give up a touchdown until the Buccaneers last drive of the game, and even that was just a pass to Leonard Fournette in the flat.
The run defense was superb as well, with Myles Jack and Terrell Edmunds leading the charge with 18 combined tackles. They allowed just 2.9 yards per carry on the day, with the trio of Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi, and Chris Wormley all notching tackles for loss. The pass rush finally showed some life as well as Alex Highsmith had a strip-sack and Heyward got his first sack since week 1. Overall, you couldn’t have asked for any better from the Steelers defense this week.
Chase Claypool quiets the haters with huge game
Chase Claypool came into this game with just 16 catches for 129 yards and 0 touchdowns on the season, despite starting all five games. He nearly doubled those marks against the Buccaneers, finishing with seven catches for 96 yards and his first TD of the season. It wasn’t just that he led the team in receiving, it’s that he did it in spectacular fashion. Of his seven catches, six went for either a first down or a TD. He was responsible for three of the Steelers four 3rd and long conversions as well. Basically, Claypool was at his best in the biggest moments of the game.
There has been a lot of talk this season about the Steelers moving on from Claypool, and rightfully so. However, it’s games like this where he makes you believe he could be a top-flight receiver in this league. I still question whether he will ever have the consistency needed to be an impact starter, but this game should at least quiet the trade talk amongst fans for now.
Mitch Trubisky saves the day for the Steelers
When Kenny Pickett went down halfway through the 3rd quarter with a concussion, I couldn’t help but think that the game might be over. Pickett’s numbers were mediocre at best, but he had led the Steelers to 13 points and the lead up to that point. Instead, Mitch lead the team to a TD on his second drive and engineered a beautiful four-minute drill to run out the clock for the win on his last. He had easily his best showing as a Steeler, finishing the game 9 of 12 for 144 yards and the aforementioned score.
I have already seen the tweets and articles about whether Pickett should start once he is healthy. Anyone saying Trubisky should get his job back just from this performance must be forgetting the first three-and-a-half games from him to start the year. There is a reason Pickett was named the starter, and at 2-4, it’s still unlikely this team is going anywhere this year. Finding out what you have in Pickett and evaluating the roster should be the top priority, even after this performance from Trubisky.
Steelers running game, offensive playcalling continue to be duds
Steelers run game continues to be stuck in the mud
The Steelers may have won this game against the Buccaneers, but they were far from perfect. The running game for Pittsburgh was once again hard to watch, finishing with just 77 yards on 29 carries. They had just two runs over 10 yards, and one of them was by Kenny Pickett on a scramble. Najee Harris led the team with 42 yards and at least looked a bit healthier this game without the plate in his shoe, but he still averaged just three yards an attempt.
The blocking and playcalling had a lot to do with the lack of rushing success, but when you have a first-round running back and a gem undrafted free agent in the backfield, you expect more production.
Matt Canada’s conservative offense is killing his skill players
The Steelers offense was better overall this week after scoring just three points against the Bills, but they still are far from a good unit. They had just 270 yards of total offense, even less than the 296 they had averaged through their first five games. All of the same issues continue to show up: a lack of rushing success, avoiding the middle of the field, and an over-reliance on the quick passing game.
Until Matt Canada fundamentally changes his approach, there will be a very low ceiling placed on this offense. It feels as though Canada is banking on his players being perfect because that’s the only way this offense could possibly be good. Fans just have to hope that the next offensive coordinator can be a bit more creative.