The Steelers stunned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-18, on Sunday in a home game that saw rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett exit at the end of the third quarter after taking a big hit.
Pickett, who left the game with the Steelers (2-4) leading, 13-12, threw his first career touchdown pass to Najee Harris in the first quarter. He finished the game 11-of-18 for 67 yards and the TD.
Mitch Trubisky, who started Pittsburgh’s first four games, entered the game for Pickett and made enough plays to allow the Steelers to maintain the lead. He completed 75 percent of his passes for 144 yards and threw what ultimately became the game-sealing touchdown pass to wide receiver Chase Claypool with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Trubisky played very well and might have gotten the starting job back today,” said analyst Mike Tannenbaum of The 33rd Team. “He made plays with his arm and legs in the time he was in there for Pickett.”
Going just 4-of-14 on third downs, the Buccaneers (3-3) struggled to move the ball on offense the entire game.
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady finished with 243 passing yards and just one TD pass. Leonard Fournette led the Buccaneers in rushing with 63 yards on the ground. He did catch six passes for 38 yards and a late TD.
Fournette’s touchdown, with more than 4 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, cut Pittsburgh’s lead to just two, but Tampa failed to convert a game-tying two-point conversion.
The Steelers’ defense held the Buccaneers in check all while missing safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and edge rusher T.J. Watt with injuries. Pittsburgh still got pressure on Brady as they hit him five times and sacked him twice, with Cameron Hayward and Larry Ogunjobi contributing two QB hits each.
The Steelers face the Miami Dolphins next Sunday night. Pickett’s status for that game is uncertain since he will need to clear the NFL’s new concussion protocol. The Buccaneers will try to get back on track in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers.