It was a disheartening moment for the Pittsburgh Steelers faithful seeing rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett slow to get up after a big shot from Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White in the third quarter Sunday at Acrisure Stadium, leading to backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky entering the game.
Disheartening because the prized rookie was hurt, and a bit disheartening because of the feelings conjured up with Trubisky back on the field so quickly after the first three and a half games of tape that ultimately led to his benching.
Trubisky, a true professional through and through, seized the moment though, leading the Steelers to an important 20-18 win on Sunday over the Buccaneers, leading a scoring drive and then closing out the game with an impressive drive of 4:38 to milk the clock and close out the win.
In a big spot, the veteran was prepared and stepped up in a big way, earning praise from head coach Mike Tomlin and teammates immediately after the game Sunday.
Monday, inside the Steelers locker room at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, starting center Mason Cole spoke glowingly of Trubisky and his performance against the Buccaneers, stating that nobody was surprised that Trubisky could come off the bench like that and play “his ass off.”
“It’s not a shock to us. I know with Kenny [Pickett] coming in, and for Mitch, it was hard for Mitch. But we knew how good Mitch is too. I said this to someone yesterday that we knew Mitch has been this guy,” Cole stated to reporters Monday, according to video via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski. “Mitch has been to the playoffs twice as an NFL quarterback, won a bunch of games. For him to go out there, it was easy for us. There was no hurdle we had to get over with him coming in. It was smooth. Mitch played his ass off.”
Trubisky stepped into a tough situation with Pickett down with a concussion and responded in a big way. The first two drives yielded nothing, but then the Steelers found their footing with Trubisky, embarking on an eight-play 71-yard scoring drive.
On that drive, Trubisky converted a third and 13 to George Pickens for a gain of 14 yards. On a third and six, Trubisky caught the Buccaneers off guard with tempo, catching them with 12 guys on the field before hitting rookie tight end Connor Heyward for 45 yards — the longest play of the season for the Steelers.
Two plays later, Trubisky fired a dart to Chase Claypool from six yards out to give the Steelers a 20-12 lead.
Following a Tampa Bay touchdown drive and failed two-point conversion, the Steelers needed to close the game out with a four-minute offense drive. Trubisky came through again, converting a third and 15 to Claypool one play after a bad snap from Cole, and then later found Claypool for 26 yards down the left sideline on the move.
The veteran followed that throw up with a 9-yard run and 3-yard sneak to move the chains and seal the win.
He was ready to go and came into the game playing free and loose, something that wasn’t the case during his 3.5 games as the starting quarterback for the black and gold. We’ll see what transpires at the position moving forward, but Trubisky came through in a big way for the Steelers on Sunday, leading them to a much-needed win.