Lovie Smith didn't panic. A lifetime spent around football let the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coach know rebuilding projects don't happen overnight.
So as bad as his team's six-touchdown waxing by Atlanta on national television looked, he didn't lose his cool. Instead, Smith challenged his winless team to stay positive and get better.
Done and done.
Mike Glennon hit Vincent Jackson for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 7 seconds remaining and Tampa Bay rallied past the sloppy and stunned Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 on Sunday.
"Any new program starting out, you'd like to be playoff ready right away but that didn't happen," Smith said. "You'd just like to win a game right away, and that didn't happen. It takes a little bit of time. But the guys have continued to work hard."
Tampa Bay (1-3) blew an early 10-point lead but didn't go away after the Steelers (2-2) roared back to take a pair of seven-point leads. The Buccaneers had two chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The first one ended with Glennon overthrowing Jackson in the end zone on fourth down with 1:53 left. The second ended with Jackson extending his 6-foot-5 frame in the left corner of the end zone to silence the Heinz Field crowd and send his teammates streaming onto the field in celebration.
"It would have been tough to sleep tonight if we didn't get another chance or win this game because those are throws that I need to make if we're going to win games," Glennon said.
Glennon passed for 302 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He hit Louis Murphy for a 41-yard gain on Tampa Bay's final drive to put the Buccaneers in position to win it and give Smith his first win in his second head coaching stop.
I was out last year, so it's been a long time since I've tasted winning a game," Smith said. "For our football team, we needed this."
The Steelers did not. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 314 yards and three scores but Pittsburgh couldn't improve to 3-1 for the first time since 2010. A slew of penalties didn't help. The Steelers came in second in the league in most penalties and padded that total, drawing 13 flags for 125 yards.
"We need to fix it," coach Mike Tomlin said. "And if we don't we'll continue to lose close football games."
Here's some other things from Tampa Bay's win:
THE REAL MCCOY: Tampa Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy needed all of two snaps to make his presence felt in his return from a hand injury. He sacked Roethlisberger on the game's second play. Defensive end Michael Johnson strip sacked Roethlisberger one play later and the Buccaneers recovered deep in Pittsburgh territory. The Buccaneers got to Roethlisberger five times in all.
WHISTLE HAPPY: The teams combined for 22 penalties in all, with another handful declined for one reason or another. Pittsburgh drew six 15-yard penalties, including after-the-whistle flags on wide receiver Antonio Brown for a touchdown celebration and defensive end Cam Heyward for arguing with officials.
"We've got to grow from this," Heyward said. "Hopefully it will never happen again."
MAGIC MIKE: The 6-foot-7 Glennon stood tall in the face of a revamped Pittsburgh defense that included linebacker James Harrison, who signed with the Steelers last week after a brief retirement. Glennon was sacked just once and appeared to get better as the game wore on. His 41-yard hookup with Murphy came on a play the Buccaneers installed only days earlier.
"You couldn't draw up a script any better for Mike," Smith said. "No timeouts, hurry-up, all the things you dream about he had a chance to do."
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: The Steelers rolled up 390 yards, a number that could have been significantly higher. Pittsburgh narrowly missed on several plays, most notably a flea-flicker from Roethlisberger to Brown that saw the ball glance off Brown's fingertips with nothing between the Pro Bowler and the end zone but open grass.
BANGED UP BUCS: The win was costly for Tampa Bay. Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans caught his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter but left in the second half with a groin injury. Safety Dashon Goldson also left with an ankle injury and did not return.
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