Tom Brady had a 12-3 lifetime record against the Steelers in the regular season and playoffs, with only one of his wins coming before the Big Ben era.
The way the 2022 season had trended, no one had much hope the Steelers would fare any better against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers than they did against Josh Allen and the Bills. Except for Terrell Edmunds, all the other defensive backfield starters could not play. Rookie DeMarvin Leal landed on the injury reserve list, and the Steelers had to play without Pat Freiermuth.
Injuries aside, the week had not been good for Coach Tomlin and his coaching staff. The loss to the Bills, the worst loss since 1988, seemed to be a breaking point for many fans and analysts. People want Matt Canada fired, Tomlin to wake up and smell the coffee, or wanting the Rooneys to clean house and start over. Not many had assumed things would improve much this week.
However, this is the NFL; things can change on a dime. As the saying goes, “any given Sunday,” that is what occurred today. Teams sometimes dig deep and give fans a Herculean effort when they are at their lowest. The Steelers managed just that today. They ended a four-game losing streak, gave the Buccaneers a huge loss, and hurt their chances of winning the NFC Smikeouth. In what is a slight cliché, coaches routinely say there is no I in team; that adage proved correct today. The victory was the best Steelers team effort, even better than the overtime win over the Bengals, as it was hard fought, and the Steelers had to overcome much adversity.
There was no single player that won the game; it was the unexpected players who stepped up at the right time and made the much-needed plays. Chase Claypool had been on the hot seat with some calling for the Steelers to trade him. He had seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Conner Heyward made a huge play gaining 45 yards in the 4th quarter to keep a drive alive, thus keeping Tom Brady off the field when he’s at his most dangerous.
Steve Sims busted another huge play in his second game after replacing Gunner Olszewski, he ripped off an 89-yard kick return putting the Steelers into scoring position. It was the longest kick return in Steelers history not returned for a touchdown. He had a total of 112 return yards for the game on three kickoff returns.
Devin Bush, another player in the dog house of many fans for not living up to his potential, stepped up his play when he broke up Tom Brady’s attempt for the two-point conversion. Even Mitch Trubisky managed to play well enough to preserve the Steelers lead and not relinquish it. He went 9/12 for 144 yards, one touchdown, and a quarterback rating of 142.4.
Even beleaguered head coach Mike Tomlin deserves some much-needed praise. He managed to devise a game plan designed to bring pressure to force Brady out of the pocket, making him throw in the run, something Brady has never done well, highlighted by Alex Highsmith’s strip-sack of Tom Brady. Tomlin’s post-game comments seemed to echo the thought that the past week had been rough, but the win was a great collective effort.
The City of Pittsburgh needed something to cheer about, and the Steelers gave them a reason to cheer. It shows that the team is starting to gel and may play much better throughout the remainder of the season.
While the win is great, it does not mean they have solved all the team’s problems in one game, and they still have a difficult season ahead of them, and no guarantees may win a lot of the remaining games. However, we can at least take a week and savor a gutsy victory over Tom Brady and know Brady’s career may end with him being 0-1 against Kenny Pickett.