Tampa Bay Dominates Pittsburgh In Final Game Of The Week

Tampa Bay Dominates Pittsburgh In Final Game Of The Week

The USFL’s final game of the week was postponed yesterday, due to severe weather in the Birmingham area. This turned out to be a pleasant surprise for football fans, as we were treated to a special Monday Night Football edition of the USFL.

It was the Pittsburgh Maulers taking on the Tampa Bay Bandits to close out the week. Quite a bit of drama was surrounding Kirby Wilson’s Maulers, as “United By Football” revealed an interesting behind-the-scenes look at what went down between the coach and former running back, De’Veon Smith.

Regardless, spring football fans were excited to watch Jordan Ta’amu finally hit the field. Ta’amu was an XFL standout, lighting it up for the St. Louis Battlehawks. Under Todd Haley’s leadership, Ta’amu led the Bandits to a bigtime win on Monday night.

First Quarter

Tampa Bay got the football first, and looked absolutely fantastic to start. Jordan Ta’amu was electrifying from the get go, completing his first five pass attempts which put the Bandits in excellent position. BJ Emmons ran it in from three yards out, and Tampa Bay took an early 7-0 lead.

Josh Love got the start for Pittsburgh over Kyle Lauletta, but the Maulers offense looked flat to start. A quick three and out gave Tampa Bay the football right back. However, the Bandits could not capitalize, punting the ball quickly.

Pittsburgh’s offense continued to sputter, unable to pick up a single first down. This time, Tampa Bay took advantage. The team swiftly marched down the field, eventually scoring on a Ty Rausa field goal which gave them a 10-0 lead.

Second Quarter

The Maulers put together a good looking drive, but failed to convert on a fourth and three attempt, which gave Tampa Bay the ball back again. Luckily for Pittsburgh, a big hit on Ta’amu forced an incompletion, and the Maulers regained possession.

Penalties started to pile up for the Maulers, hurting the team offensively. A huge sack from Reggie Howard pushed Pittsburgh back, and they were not able to find a way out of the loss of yardage.

In the second quarter, the offenses really struggled to find a rhythm. Both teams continued to trade punts throughout the majority of the period.

Tampa Bay found a groove towards the end of the half, marching down the field with ease. Jordan Ta’amu found Jordan Lasley for a short TD pass, and the Bandits took a 17-0 lead.

Pittsburgh did get an interception on Ta’amu in the final seconds, but had no time to do anything with the football. Heading into halftime, Tampa Bay was in complete control up by 17.

Third Quarter

The Maulers’ offensive woes continued in the second half, punting on their first drive. Tampa Bay, however, turned the ball over on downs, giving the Maulers a chance to chip away at the deficit.

Pittsburgh finally found some offense, as Josh Love made a few excellent throws to put the team in scoring position. A dropped touchdown, however, made the Maulers settle for three, and they still trailed by 14.

Tampa Bay failed to get their offense going in the third quarter, which left the door open for Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for the Maulers, their offensive game plan of running the football simply did not work. The Bandits were ready for it every single time, and Pittsburgh had to punt again.

With fifteen minutes left to play, Tampa Bay led 17-3.

Fourth Quarter

Jordan Ta’amu was unable to find a rhythm in the second half, looking a lot duller than he did in the opening two quarters. Pittsburgh got another interception from Kyahva Tazino, giving the Maulers another chance to pull the game closer.

An incredible 4th and 11 conversion kept Pittsburgh’s drive alive, but the team could not convert from inside the ten yard line. Tampa Bay maintained a 17-3 lead with just over eight minutes to play.

Pittsburgh’s defense did an incredible job down the stretch. Despite their offense being unable to get anything right, the Maulers did everything they could defensively.

After forcing Tampa Bay to punt multiple times in the fourth quarter, a missed field goal from Ty Rausa kept it a 14 point game with a couple of minutes left.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, a turnover on downs sealed the deal for Tampa Bay. The Bandits won their first game of the season, 17-3 over a lifeless Maulers team.

Final Thoughts

What really hurt Pittsburgh in this opening game is their lack of offensive cohesion. Time and time again, their defense came up with stops – but the other side could not hold up their side of the deal.

Kirby Wilson has got to do a better job adjusting moving forward. Running the football was not working – so why not pass the ball? If Pittsburgh wants to be competitive, they have to be much more aggressive offensively.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay played a complete game across the board. Offensively, they struggled in the second half, but found a way to dominate the entire game. The Bandits are certainly one of the best teams after week one.

Did you enjoy watching Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh? Which players stuck out at you tonight? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

  1. Did not see even a single individual in the stands. Attendance of this game appeared to be zero.

    Not a good sign, folks. Oh, and by the way. I was a huge fan of the original Tampa Bay Bandits in the old USFL, And, in the old USFL – the games were televised on network TV and you didn’t have to fork over any money to watch them at home. In this new USFL reincarnation, the league seems to think they can compel people to subscribe to streaming services – FS1 for example, and FS1 is not free. Here we are at point in history where inflation has hit the highest levels that most Americans have ever experienced in their lifetimes – cost of gasoline is exploding, groceries are skyrocketing, even fast food restaurants are jacking up the prices of their menu items. BTW, a Popeye’s chicken sandwich that I paid a little over $4 for last November is now priced at $8 – double the cost.

    Anyone in the USFL league office who thinks that Americans are going to blow their ever shrinking amount of discretionary cash on subscriptions to watch USFL games when people are struggling to put gas in their vehicles and groceries on their table – is badly mistaken.

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