Fitzmagic wasn’t quite as potent on Monday night as it had been in the first two games of the NFL’s 2018 season, and that left four players with Alabama football roots on the losing team in the final game of Week 3.
Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 400 yards in three consecutive games. But he had three interceptions to go with his three touchdown passes, and Pittsburgh’s Bud Dupree returned one of the interceptions for a touchdown in the Steelers’ 30-27 victory.
The four players from Alabama high schools and colleges in the game all started for Tampa Bay — middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (Oxford), running back Peyton Barber (Auburn), cornerback Carlton Davis (Auburn) and tight end O.J. Howard (Autauga Academy, Alabama).
Alexander made eight tackles.
Barber ran for 33 yards on eight carries. Tampa Bay trailed 30-10 at halftime, and a Barber rushing attempt with about nine minutes left in the third quarter was the last time the Buccaneers called a running play in the game.
A rookie who’s started every game this season for Tampa Bay, Davis recorded three tackles.
Howard tied a career-high with six receptions, which went for 72 yards.
The Bucs face a decision now at quarterback. Former Hueytown High School standout Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback since being selected with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, returns to the team on Tuesday. Winston missed the first three games of the season while serving an NFL-imposed suspension for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.
Tampa Bay can either restore Winston to the starting job with Fitzpatrick returning to the backup role or continue to ride with a QB who just made NFL history.
Pittsburgh’s record went to 1-1-1 with the Steelers’ first victory of the season as Ben Roethlisberger threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Tampa Bay suffered its first loss to drop to 2-1.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.