As the Game Turns: Week 3 at Tampa Bay

By: G.Stryker

Each and every game has a pivotal moment where victory is decided.  Not always the game winning play, but a play that determines the outcome, and if it went differently, a different result would be likely. So each week we will explore the exact moment of drama where the game is decided on: As the Game Turns.

To punt, or not to punt?  That is the question. On a Sunday night in Tampa Bay, that decision determined the outcome of the game.  

This game started differently from the Steelers previous two.  They got off to a hot start, caused a few turnovers and scored at the end of the half to put up a 30-10 lead.  What seemed like a game in the bag, turned into a close game down the stretch, as the Buccaneers scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to make it a 3 point contest.  The Bucs got the ball back with 3:02 left on their 25 yard line after a touchback. Three straight incompletions put them in a 4th and 10 situation with 2:49 on the clock. Do you punt knowing you only have 2 time outs and the 2 minute warning to stop the clock, or do you go for it with the league’s passing yardage leader to try to win?

Boom went the punt, and I cheered for this coaching decision, knowing they put the end-game scenario on the Steeler offense instead of the Steeler defense.  The Steelers had Tampa burn their last 2 timeouts while still gaining a first down. Steelers then attain another first down on James Conner’s legs, just before the 2 minute warning, icing the game.  Victory formation. Game over.

So the conservative approach of punting at the end of the game caused Tampa to lose all of their Fitzmagic.  That coaching decision was the definitive play, where the match turned into a victory for the Steelers.

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