Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive unpleasant wake-up call against Pittsburgh Steelers

Bucs safety Sean Jones, left, and cornerback Aqib Talib don’t have much to smile about on the bench in the fourth quarter. The Bucs secondary was torched for three passing touchdowns from 35-year-old QB Charlie Batch.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs safety Sean Jones, left, and cornerback Aqib Talib don’t have much to smile about on the bench in the fourth quarter. The Bucs secondary was torched for three passing touchdowns from 35-year-old QB Charlie Batch.

TAMPA

Good thing that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is such good friends with Raheem Morris, don't you think? Good thing that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is still under league suspension for being a sleaze. Good thing the Bucs had all of that homefield advantage working for them.

Otherwise, this game might have really looked ugly.

As it was, it was unsightly enough. Think of it as three hours of ocular torture. The Steelers, one of the legitimate teams of the NFL, came into town Sunday, and it was like watching a big kid take the lunch money from a smaller one. It was brutal, and it was mean, and it was nasty.

Good thing the Bucs are so much better than last year, isn't it? Good thing the Steelers' backup to the backup quarterback Charlie Batch, at 106 years old, hadn't started a game since the '07 (1907, one assumes) season. Good thing the ticket sales were bad enough that this game was blacked out locally.

Otherwise, you might have been tempted to watch and perhaps risk never sleeping again.

For most of Sunday afternoon, the Steelers pushed the Bucs backward across the field at Raymond James Stadium. Think of it as a favor. Play after play, the Steelers helped point out all the things the Bucs are not. Bruising, for one. Powerful, for another. Relentless, for a third.

For the Bucs, it was as if the Steelers turned on a light to show the Bucs what a real 2-0 team looks like. You know, one that runs the ball, and one that rushes the passer, and one that wins the big plays at the line of scrimmage. Also, one that wins 38-13 despite backing off the throttle in the second half.

This was brutal. This was punishing. This was Ohio State playing Bowling Green or, perhaps, the Bowling of a Lesser Color.

For two weeks, the Bucs had given you a reason to believe they could fare better than this. True enough, they don't give trophies for beating Cleveland or Carolina, two teams that Mel Kiper is going to talk about a lot when he talks about where high draft picks might wind up in the spring. Still, the Bucs had played well enough against the run to make you think they had a chance to keep the score at least reasonable.

But, no, they didn't.

The Bucs were walloped. They gave up 6.3 yards per rush. They gave up 15.5 yards per completion. They gave up a 106.5 rating to Batch, who might be the NFL's first quarterback ever to score his age.

Okay, okay. I'm kidding about Batch, who is merely 35. On Sunday, he turned back the clock 10 years, which, considering the age of the defense he was facing, left a lot of the Bucs as 13-year-olds.

Still, if a team is to have a defense, it cannot allow two should-have-been interceptions turn into 46- and 41-yard touchdowns. It cannot surrender 143 yards rushing to Rashard Mendenhall.

Do you want to know the truth? This game felt a lot worse than a 25-point margin. Maybe that's because the Bucs finally slowed down the Steelers. Then again, maybe it was because Tomlin did. Batch threw only three passes the second half. The Steelers' only touchdown came on an interception return.

Perhaps that is why the Bucs sounded so darned plucky in the postgame. Morris kept repeating the Bucs were 2-1 heading into the break, and every player in the locker room sang along, until it sounded as if Sunday was a fine day instead of a day that should have ticked off a few players.

And guess what? It's hard to blame Morris. Why not grab onto whatever optimism he can? The Bucs aren't going to get any better by being yelled at.

"You have to take that burn in your belly and use it," is the way cornerback Ronde Barber put it.

True, the tendency is to compare it to last year's Giants game, or last year's Jets game, or any of the games in which the Bucs suffered a lopsided loss. And no, it wasn't quite that bad. The Bucs did turn a few good plays into a few bad ones, such as Aqib Talib's ball-through-his-hands touchdown pass, and Sammie Stroughter's ball-through-his-hands interception, and the touchdown pass where Cody Grimm forgot the part about turning around.

"This was about us, not the other team," linebacker Barrett Ruud said.

"At least it wasn't like last year, where we were banging our heads against the wall because we didn't know what was going on," Barber said.

Good for the improvement, then. Good for a late score that trimmed the margin to only 25. Good for the knowledge that on the Bucs' worst plays, opportunities were at least there.

Oh, and good for the Bucs.

They don't have to play the Steelers again.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive unpleasant wake-up call against Pittsburgh Steelers 09/26/10 [Last modified: Sunday, September 26, 2010 10:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)