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The Buccaneers can’t quite overcome the Steelers’ blazing first half, but Tampa Bay QB Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps the FitzMagic alive, throwing for 400 yards for the third straight game.

By Kalyn Kahler
September 25, 2018

What a weird Monday night football game. In the Steelers’ 30–27 win against the Buccaneers, Pittsburgh showed flashes of their old selves in their first win of the season—lifting the team to 1-1-1—while Tampa Bay lost some of its FitzMagic, but not before veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 400 passing yards for the third game in a row.

The Steelers’ offense reminded everyone what they can do offensively, putting an impressive 30 points on the board in the first half, highlighted by an impressive 27-yard touchdown from Antonio Brown—Brown caught a quick pass from Roethlisberger on a short hitch route and shook a tackle to get to the end zone, leaping over the goal line when he got there. In classic form, Brown abused the Buccaneers beat-up secondary. He may not have shown up to work last Monday, but he showed up this Monday night.

After losing a game and tying a game without Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh showed on Monday night that the Steelers can be okay without their prized running back. Roethlisberger made plays, Brown was back to being Brown and James Conner did just enough in the run game to almost make everyone forget about Bell. To top it off, the Pittsburgh defense forced three turnovers and scored the first defensive touchdown in 24 games.

The win was almost enough to brush aside the latest issues plaguing the Steelers’ locker room—with Bell holding out, Brown skipping work last Monday and trade rumors swirling—but one downside was that the team committed at least 12 penalties for a third straight game.

Fitzpatrick or Winston for the Buccaneers?

It wasn’t enough to win the game, but Fitzpatrick’s redeeming second half should be enough to hold on to his starting job for the time being. (QB Jameis Winston is allowed to return to the Bucs facility on Tuesday morning after serving a three-game suspension for assaulting an Uber driver.) Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions in the first half—one in the red zone and one deep in Tampa Bay’s own territory that was returned for a touchdown.

It looked like the typical Fitzpatrick cycle was starting to take hold again, but the QB came out firing in the second half and nearly pulled off the 20-point comeback. He finished with 411 yards, and became the first player in NFL history to throw for 400+ yards in three consecutive games. Fitzpatrick also now has SIX 50-yard passes in three games. Pittsburgh’s defense pressured Fitzpatrick all night and forced him into some bad throws in the first half, but the loss wasn’t all on Fitzpatrick. Bucs second-year receiver Chris Godwin dropped catchable balls in tight coverage in the end zone, catches that a more veteran receiver in that spot likely would make.

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1. 49ers fears were confirmed: Jimmy Garoppolo is out for the season with a torn ACL.

2. Dolphins defensive lineman William Hayes tore his ACL while trying to avoid a roughing the passer penalty

3. It's official: Baker Mayfield will start Cleveland’s Week 4 game and Josh Rosen will start for Arizona. Mayfield and Rosen becomes the third and fourth of the five class of 2018 quarterbacks to earn the starting job, along with Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. Baltimore's Lamar Jackson is the lone rookie quarterback who is not his team's starter, though he has seen some action this season.

4. Bill Belichick’s post-game press conference was as entertaining as ever. Q: “How would you describe your conversation with Matt Patricia after the game?” Belichick: “No.”

5. The Jets are interested in trading for Le’Veon Bell.

6. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen allegedly threatened to shoot someone at a hotel in Minneapolis on Saturday. After that incident, Griffen reportedly tried to break into a teammate's home Saturday night and is currently undergoing a mental health evaluation.


The best part of Monday Night Football was Cam Heyward's shocked reaction to Vance McDonald’s stiff arm.

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