Beleaguered Steelers Defense Awaits Bucs Red-Hot Offense

Tampa Bay Receivers Have 8 TD Catches In 2 Games

Eric Hagman
September 22, 2018 - 1:40 pm
Keith Butler

93.7 The Fan

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Pittsburgh (93.7 The Fan) - Uh oh.  This doesn't bode well for the Steelers struggling defense Monday night at Tampa Bay.

"To me, this is the best team we play offensively," defensive coordinator Keith Butler said this week.  Butler's comment raised eyebrows if only because days earlier the Chiefs offense--led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes--had shredded his defense for six passing touchdowns.

Cornerback Joe Haden did not play against Kansas City because of a hamstring injury.  He expects to return to the lineup.  The other starting cornerback Artie Burns apparently has competition.  Coty Sensabaugh confirmed he saw time with the first team in practice.  Meantime, strong safety Morgan Burnett missed practice Friday and Saturday because of a groin injury.  He is listed as doubtful.

While Mahomes picked apart the defense in only his third NFL start, Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has made 121 starts for seven teams during a career that began in 2005.  

Fitzpatrick has enjoyed some good statistical seasons--generally on teams that weren't very good--but he's been nothing short of sensational over the first two weeks.  His 819 passing yards lead the league.  His eight touchdown passes are second to Mahomes.  He's completed 78.7% of his passes.  He was sacked only twice.

'He has been exceptional, I think," said Butler.  "He has exceptional receivers, and he is very confident in what he does.  He picks the right guy to throw to all the time."

The 35 year old quarterback has a quartet of talented receivers at his disposal.  DeSean Jackson is averaging 30.6 yards for his nine catches (three touchdowns)..  Mike Evans leads the Bucs with 17 receptions (two touchdowns).. Chris Godwin has eight catches, two for touchdowns. Tight End O.J. Howard has five catches and a 30.0 average.

One thing Tampa Bay hasn't done particularly well is run the ball.  Peyton Barber is averaging only 2.6 on 35 rushing attempts.  Opposing backs, however, are averaging nearly 5 yards per carry against the Steelers.