The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are off to 2-0 start for the first time since 2005. After a 17-14 win at home vs the Cleveland Browns and a 20-7 win on the road vs the Carolina Panthers, the Buccaneers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers for a week three showdown of unbeatens at Raymond James Stadium.
Most “experts” will tell you that the Bucs stand no chance vs the Steelers. And while, no doubt, the Steelers are the favorites, the Buccaneers do stand a chance. As everyone knows, Pittsburgh is without their starting QB Ben Roethlisberger for the first 3 games of the season. And Dennis Dixon was injured in last week’s win vs the Titans. Pittsburgh won by only eight points after forcing seven Titan turnovers. Most signs point to Byron Leftwich starting vs Tampa Bay (whom Leftwich started 3 games for last season), but it could be Charlie Batch. Either way, it gives the Bucs a chance to “steal” a win from Pittsburgh because neither QB strikes fear into any defense in the NFL.
Josh Freeman has been incredible throughout the first two weeks of the season, especially considering he’s still playing with a fractured thumb that isn’t fully healed yet. He made a number of plays that left Tampa fans saying “We may finally have our franchise QB.” He has been smart with his passes and great running the ball for first downs when needed. Freeman has only one interception through two games.
Rookie WR Mike Williams has two touchdowns in his first two games and had looked great. He has beaten the defense deep, but Freeman has been unable to connect with him a couple of times. Look for Williams to continue his great start.
The Bucs’ run game has struggled so far, but they haven’t gone away from pounding the rock. Carnell Cadillac Williams carried the ball 27 times last week. He gained only 54 yards, but even with the low yard per carry average, it’s still good to see Tampa committed to the ground game because it keeps defenses honest. And in all likelihood, as Freeman continues to progress, defenses will be forced to focus more on Freeman and the passing game rather than shutting down the running attack.
If Tampa Bay can avoid turning the ball over too many times and if they can keep the Steelers’ ground game, specifically Rashard Mendenhall, from exploding, then the Buccaneers could be well on their way to a 3-0 start. It won’t be a pretty game in all likelihood – I’m thinking a 17-13 type of score. But don’t listen to the “experts” who say Tampa Bay has no shot.
About the Author
Written by A. J.
I've lived in Texas most of my life. I graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. I currently am the sports editor for a local paper near Tyler, TX. I worked in the sports department for the Longview News-Journal for four years throughout high school and some college. My favorite teams are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rays.