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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
.@kyahva44 executes the tip drill to perfection. 👌
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!