For the first time in a long time, we have Bucs football to watch.

After all those weeks of reading articles, hearing of signings, watching the draft, following mini-camp updates and going to training camp, it was finally time for some real football, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened up their preseason campaign up in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.

Quarterback Jameis Winston started the game for the Buccaneers and in his first and only drive he gave the front office, this coaching staff and the fans a lot to be happy about and look forward to. Winston went 5-for-6 with 40 yards in a drive that was capped off by a 9-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.

The Steelers, who were not starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, couldn’t get anything going on on their first drive. Quarterback Josh Dobbs hit a big throw down the field to wide receiver James Washington with Vernon Hargreaves in coverage, but after that they were forced to punt.

The Bucs pulled Winston after one drive, which made sense after how effective he was in the opening series. The rest of the starting offensive line was switch out, as well. Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert came into the game and orchestrated a long 13-play, 75 yards drive that had a lot of looks to tight end Tanner Hudson. The Bucs ended up getting it in the red zone but went for it on fourth down and came up short, so the game remained 7-0.

On the next possession, Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves had a great interception at the sideline, but it was called back for offsetting penalties. Following that, the Steelers went on a long drive of 14 plays for 68 yards that ended in a field goal to make the score 7-3.

The Bucs offense couldn’t respond with much, as it took just three plays for them to punt it back to the Steelers. With Mason Rudolph at quarterback, the Steelers marched down the field. Rudolph and Washington ended the drive by connecting in the end zone for a touchdown and the lead (M.J. Stewart in coverage). The score was then 10-7. On the Bucs side of things, pass rusher Noah Spence looked great off the edge, causing pressure and getting into the backfield.

Two plays into the Bucs next drive, new quarterback Ryan Griffin fumbled the ball and the Steelers took over. They couldn’t move the ball much on their side, and were forced to kick a field goal to take the score to 13-7.

The Bucs responded with a 7-play, 52-yard drive that got them into field goal range. That entire drive was operated out of the 2-minute drill, and it was operated very well. At the end of it, rookie kicker Matt Gay lined up for a 55 yard field goal that he kicked straight through to give the Bucs three more points as time expired in the first half. That kick tied the longest field goal ever made at Heinz Field.

The second half opened up with back-to-back punts, one for each team. When the Steelers took over for their second drive of the second half, they went 65 yards in three plays to punch in another touchdown to make the score 20-10 Pittsburgh.

The Bucs and Steelers once again traded punts after the Pittsburgh touchdown. This time after the dueling punts it was the Buccaneers who took over and scored a touchdown. On an 8-play, 72-yard drive, Griffin led the Buccaneers passing offense thanks to big passes to Justin Watson and Antony Auclair. That got them close to the end zone where running back Dare Ogunbowale punched it in. After a missed 2-point attempt, the score was 20-16.

The Steelers responded well with an 8-play, 76-yard drive of their own that ended in six points. Bucs rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting was in coverage on the touchdown throw. That brought the score to 27-16 in favor of the home team, Pittsburgh.

Following the touchdown the Bucs punted the ball after just four plays. Following the punt, it took the Steelers seven plays to go just 19 yards, but that was enough to get into field goal range to extend their lead to 30-16.

Though it didn’t matter much in terms of the result of the game, the following drive Griffin marched down the field with a handful of throws to wide receiver Spencer Schnell that got them into striking distance. That strike was delivered to tight end Tanner Hudson who reeled in a one-handed catch for a touchdown. Ryan Griffin ended the game 25-for-42 for 317 yards. After another failed 2-point conversion, the score showed 30-22, still in favor of Pittsburgh.

The Steelers, having a chance to close out the game, marched to midfield, but a fumble and recovery by the Buccaneers gave them one last chance to potentially tie it down eight points with just over two minutes left to play. After some crazy plays to Schnell and Hudson, Ogunbowale punched in his second touchdown of the game to bring the score to 30-28 with a 2-point conversion coming.

But after a third failed 2-point conversion of the night from the Buccaneers, the score showed 30-28.

And that’s how the score would end.

The Bucs fall to 0-1 in the preseason. The welcome in the Miami Dolphins to town next week for a series of joint practices before their preseason home opener at Raymond James Stadium next week.

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

24 COMMENTS

  1. This was one of the most awful games I have seen in a while. I would say our starters on offense look okay, and Winston definitely looked good, but there was no discipline on this team at all. What did we have? about 40 Penalties? And the vaunted Defense? Please. White was total nonfactor and we gave up so many big plays. What happened?

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  2. I like what i have seen from the 1’s on both sides of the ball.

    The depth chart after the 1’s is going to change a lot because of the mental errors. That will be fixed very quickly with the depth chart changing.

    Hudson, Schnell, Wilksin, I. Johnson, Spence, RG4 etc all showed up tonight.

    Depth at OL is going to be a problem.

    Depth at WR and TE is very, very deep.

    Overall the Bucs were competitive tonight. But unfortunate that Mitchell was injured.

    Lots of room for improvement and it seems RB unit is the most improved unit on the team.

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  3. I am going to say it right now. Matt Gay is going to be the best pick of this Draft. I would say that Bucs need to go back to the drawing board on Defense. I didn’t see much to be excited about other than the team clawed it’s way back at the end.

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  4. I got an idea. If the first three times don’t work at a 2 point conversion, try it one more time….Geezus.

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  5. Nice to have the Bucs back on TV, I missed most of the starters but nice highlights. Go Bucs

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  6. I wasn’t able to watch being at work so I only got to watch the play by play on nfl.com. The RBs seemed to do pretty well and Jameis looked to be in the groove. Secondary seemed to limit Pittsburgh stat wise but looked like we allowed more running yards than I would’ve liked.

    Maybe most importantly was the 55 yard kick by Gay. Kicking competition is heating up, how long has it been since we’ve been able to say that?

    Hoping for a more in-depth analysis of the individual players from PR. I’m mostly interested in how well the OL was blocking and how tight the coverage was in the secondary.

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    • The Steelers rushing yards were inflated by the QB being able to escape on a passing play. Our Defense defended running plays very well.

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      • Good to know, unfortunately the market out here doesn’t show many, if any Bucs games. The regular season works out much better as all the games are out of market so I can watch on Sunday Ticket.

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  7. Cappa looked competent which is a huge relief so far. I hope Cappa can be a steady eddy and continue to improve.

    But that depth at tackle scares me because Boozer and Benonch…ouch. Watford can play tackle in a pinch but that still isn’t ideal.

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  8. BA team got a D- for this effort IMO. We took our first team vs their 2nd team and looked ok. From there is got ugly. If Winston goes down the season is over, of Gabbert and Griffon should be paying the team to waste our time. Go grab Josh Johnson before the Eagle snatch him up.

    The penalties completely unacceptable, I expect to see more than few roster moves after this one showing it was that bad.

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    • You obviously didn’t watch the game. Our first went against their first to begin the game. You can bullshit me and say that the Steelers didn’t have all their starters in. Well neither did the Bucs. I didn’t see O.J. Howard or mike Evans play a single snap. I agree that the penalties were obnoxious and inexcusable, but anyone and everyone knows that the refs call everything in the preseason. It’s week one of preseason. Let’s not act like the season is over for Christ sake.

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      • chefboho, they were in for a short time.

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  9. Geez some of you all act like this was the conference championship. If those 2 point attempts were extra points (which they would be in the reg season) then we won.

    First and third team looked ok. Second string… needs work.

    And refs always call penalties heavy in preseason.

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  10. Didn’t see much of quality back ups in this game.
    Trevor, what do you have at best on Spence; 1 or 2 times when he did something on video?. The man can’t go left, nor can he play as a linebacker and cover someone.
    What the heck did Gholston do?
    What I saw was not enough talent from the DL or OL and not much back up talent from the DL or OL.

    I realize this is just one preseason game and I didn’t see enough to encourage me to feel comfortable that we are better than what we have been these past couple years.

    I believe we do have a DL problem and to make it worse Via won’t be back for awhile.

    I can see that the coaching is better; what i can’t see after 1 preseason game is better quality of players players.

    Does anyone believe that Hargreaves will play more than 2 or 3 games before he goes on IR?

    My grades are simple after 1 preseason game.
    Coaching C+
    Quality of talent improvement C-
    GM/Scouting Program improvement C-
    With this score I say 5-6 wins.

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  11. True if the Bucs kicked those pats maybe they win the game. But you have to work on 2 point conversions too as well as seeing more out of players like Bruce Anderson and Ogunbowale in such situations.

    A lot of miscommunication on these options routes which is probably the biggest issue I saw on offense other than the holding penalties by Boozer lol. Bucs need to find an OT to develop because Boozer doesn’t look the part so far. Maybe he proves me wrong.

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  12. I like seeing the improvement of RoJo, Stewart, Cappa, and Spence tonight. Coaching does matter when it comes to elevating talent on a existing roster. These players need to keep it up with their play and keep grinding.

    As how good the Bucs overall talent is compared to the rest of the league that will only be determined during the regular season IMVHO. But so far this pre season is showing that players long thought to be not good fits are actually NFL capable with some coaching.

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  13. I am pretty pleased with the way our starters looked tonight. Cappa made me feel better about RG and I think Godwin is going to have a great year. Our running game was decent and Winston led the offense well. Our defense when starters were in there put a ton of pressure on the QB.

    Definitely concerned about our back up tackle depth and Defensive line depth. Also reserve OLB’s were not great either. We didn’t get a much pass rush after the starters left the game.

    I am encouraged based on tonight’s performance overall.

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  14. Preseason football always comes before Regular season football. It’s really only structured practice. Only the injuries matter. Starters suffered no injuries tonight and they looked good. Good night.

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  15. I must have watched a different game then most of you. I saw a dominate effort by our starting offense and a good effort by the defensive starters. The so-called bust all played well.
    I thought the play of the first pick rookie inside LB named Devin was very good. The problem is his last name is Bush who plays for Pittsville.

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    • I watched the game live and in person and totally agree with you 76. Outside of the Steelers QB run they did very little against our Defense and our Offense only stopped itself. Special Teams not so good.

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  16. The one area that was pleasant was that a couple of last year’s players played a lot better. Cappa. ROJO. I wanted to say Stewart too but he got burned bad on that TD. I thought Hargraves looked a lot better but he got burned on one play bad.
    I would say our starters on Offense look decent. I would say nothing on Defense looked very good. I am concerned, that we have way too many 1st and 2nd-year players starting in the secondary.

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  17. I thought the starters played well in this game. I hope it carries over to the rest of the preseason games and into the regular season. I think the secondary is still a work in progress though.

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  18. The biggest improvement I saw was in O line play. All of the RB’s had lanes to run in. Glad to see Rojo do well, but I though Barber looked great running and receiving. Play calling on the first drive was solid and we executed pretty well. I also like the scheme on D. Really happy with the was Spence played and for the most part I thought we were clearly the better team on the filed in the first half. By the way – kickers made ALL of their kicks, including a 55 yarder that would have been good from 65 yards.

    Yeah, it was the first preseason game and the 2’s and 3’s got a little sloppy. The rookie sensations that have already been enshrined in Canton by the media got a wake up call, but overall, I think this is a better team than we’ve had for a while.

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  19. Alldaway 2.0 I liked and agree with your analysis. We have already picked up an OT from the Redskins that did not play last night because he has to learn our playbook first. Hopefully he can beat out Pitiful Boozer to backup D. Smith. In a pinch Watford can backup both of our OT positions.

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