SportsPulse: While there were many upsets on Sunday, the Chiefs and Rams stood out as the only elite teams in the NFL.
For one night at least — despite a late scare — all was well for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Playing on the same field in Tampa where they won their last Super Bowl nearly a decade ago, the six-time champions finally notched their first win of the 2018 season on Monday night, surviving a Buccaneers comeback to hold onto a 30-27 triumph. Ben Roethlisberger lit up the Tampa Bay defense, Antonio Brown was smiling once again after a tense week, and Le’Veon Bell’s continued absence was hardly an issue.
Now 1-1-1, Pittsburgh pulled within a half-game of AFC North co-leaders Baltimore and Cincinnati despite the slow start to their season.
Big, bad Ben: A notoriously inconsistent performer on the road, Roethlisberger appeared right at home in Raymond James Stadium (site of arguably his most impressive pro performance during that Super Bowl XLIII triumph over the Cardinals). After getting picked off on Pittsburgh’s second drive — Bucs safety Justin Evans beautifully broke on the ball — Roethlisberger rebounded by leading three consecutive scoring drives (two ending in TD throws) to stake the Steelers to a comfortable 16-7 lead they’d never relinquish. He threw one final TD just before halftime, and Pittsburgh went into the locker room up 30-10 before surviving Tampa Bay’s second-half surge. Brown finished with six catches for 50 yards and scored on a 27-yard pass from Roethlisberger in the second quarter. Big Ben finished with 353 yards through the air to go with this three TDs.
McDonald menu: Buccaneers safety Chris Conte was on that menu in the play of the night. Roethlisberger’s first TD pass went to tight end Vance McDonald, who caught the ball near the left sideline, shoved Conte to the ground after a brutal stiff-arm and cruised downfield for the balance of a 75-yard scoring hook-up. Conte left the game with a knee injury following the play.
Fitzmagic fizzles: Seeking to become the first player in NFL history with 400 passing yards and four TD passes in three consecutive games while trying to stake the Bucs to a surprising 3-0 start in the absence of suspended Jameis Winston, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t quite get the job done. He did rack up 411 yards with his right arm and helped the Bucs to 17 unanswered points in the second half. But three interceptions proved too much to overcome for the NFC South co-leaders.
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