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Insider Only Steelers – Bucs What We Learned: Backyard Ben at his Best

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What We Learned: Backyard Ben is here to stay

QB Ben Roethlisberger | 30/38, 353 YDS, 3 TD/ 1INT |
WR Juju Smith-Schuster | 9 REC – 116 YDS
TE Vance McDonald | 4 REC – 112 YDS – 1 TD

1. Pittsburgh’s 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will help slow down all the Steelers demise talk for a week and maybe the Steelers will go drama free for a day here.

The Steelers week 3 performance, though, brought more of the same then significant glimpses of optimism.

They are what they are.

An offense that has great stretches of brilliance and some lulls at inopportune times.

A defense that even when getting four turnovers, still gets torched for 411 yards against the pass and can’t stop anybody.

An undisciplined team with 13 penalties for 155 yards.

Yet, the Steelers are going to be in almost any game because of whose behind center. This is a quarterback driven league after all.

2. Backyard Ben is here to stay in 2018. There’s going to be turnovers and some dicey moments but when Ben Roethlisberger is in Backyard Ben mode he is at his best. The last two weeks we’ve seen vintage Ben, extending plays and just being Ben where he turns plays from zeros into big gains.

Ben is just getting started too because putting up 30 + points is going to be a must for the Steelers to win all the close games they’re going to be in.

Here’s a trend:

The Steelers have been involved in 5 point games or less in eight of their last nine dating back to last season:

3 Point Game (W)
3 Point Game (W)
1 Point Game (W)
28 Point Game (W)
4 Point Game (W)
3 Point Game (L)
5 Point Game (L)
3 Point Game (W)

3. A pointless second half for the offense certainly played a part in the Bucs having a chance to overcome a 20-point halftime deficit but when the job was needed to ice the game, Roethlisberger and Co got it done. How many close games this group has won since last season is something that can’t get overlooked and it showed against Tampa Bay where on the last two drives Pittsburgh’s offense looked to have an extra gear.

James Connor especially, after gaining just 12 yards on 10 carries through three quarter, Connor had 49 yards on the final two drives to help close out the game.

4. When the Steelers drafted Juju Smith-Schuster, they saw Hines Ward comparison. We’re now seeing that play out. Smith-Schuster is becoming an excellent route runner out of the slot and clearly emerging as Roethlisberger’s go-to receiver. He’s looking for Smith-Schuster when he needs a third down play.

5. Joe Haden’s value was, as expected, on display Monday night. The problem is those three other guys opposite Haden. Artie Burns has entered bust territory, while Sensabaugh and Sutton are just not starter caliber players. The revolving door will continue and every QB will just keep picking on the right side of the Steelers secondary.

6. A wrinkle from the Steelers defensively was constantly blitzing inside backers Jon Bostic/Vince Williams. Bostic was impactful in that role.

What makes it intriguing is both are awful in coverage and this took them out of a coverage role. It worked in spots. Can it continue with more tape on it?

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at