Bucs lose to outmanned Pittsburgh

by Gary Shelton on October 17, 2022

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

Here's a question. Just how many Pittsburgh Steelers would have had to miss the game Sunday for the Tampa Bay Bucs to have a chance?

The heavily favored Bucs were beaten by the limping Pittsburgh Steelers 20-18 Sunday despite no T.J. Watt, no Minkah Fitzpatrick, no starting cornerbacks, and lost starting quarterback Kenny Pickett during the crux of the game.

What do you say after a game like this. If you're a Bucs' coach or player, you say "I'm embarrassed." You say "We aren't as good as we think we are." You say "This was about as bad a loss as we've had since Washington last year."

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Then you shake your head and try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The Bucs sputtered both offensively and defensively. Tom Brady ended up with 25 of 40 pass co,pletions for 243 yards, but for most of the day, he was aiming low. The Bucs couldn't run (2.9 yards per carry), the receivers weren't quick enough to get separation from the backup secondary. Defensively, the Bucs couldn't handle backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the late going. Trubisky had a rating of 142.6, and he ran out the final four minutes of the clock by convering third-and-16 and third-and-11 situations.

"We couldn’t get one yard on third and fourth and short," Bucs' coach Todd Bowles said. "We got stalled in the red zone. I don’t think we coached it well, I don’t think we played it well."

The biggest disappointment was Brady, possibly because he is the most important Buc. Such a performance is sure to bring out criticism that he skipped Saturday's practice so he could go to the wedding of New England owner Bob Kraft. It would be different if the Bucs were playing well, but they are not.

The Bucs are now 3-3. It's been a disappointing season, but this was by far the low point. There is an energy, a carriage, that good teams have. This one doesn't. Except for Brady (on most Sundays), where do the Bucs have a decided edge over the competition?

"We didn’t take them lightly, No. 1," Bowles said.  "No 2, guys who are living off the Super Bowl are living in a fantasy land. You’ve got to get your hands dirty and go to work. No one’s going to give us anything. The time for talking is over. You’ve either got to put up or shut up."

The Bucs seemed ill-equipped to attack a team that was missing both starting corners and Fitzpatrick. Instead, they kept trying to run, and rarely -- perhaps because Brady doesn't trust his offensive line -- tried to go long.

"We didn’t earn it," Brady said. "We didn’t earn the win. It’s a game of earning it. We’re not doing a good job. We’re all playing less than what we’re capable of."

The Bucs are at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. at 1 p.m.

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