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The Pittsburgh Steelers are down their intended starter at quarterback with Kenny Pickett still recovering from the concussion suffered in-game last week. Mitch Trubisky will be the starter, but there is a reported “short leash” which could involve some playing time for Mason Rudolph. At the very least, Rudolph is suiting up for his first game of the season.
The Steelers are desperately trying to avoid mathematical elimination from the playoffs, but it is possible with a loss and some other circumstances for the team to be out of the running by the conclusion of week 15.
STEELERS INACTIVE PLAYERS
QB Kenny Pickett
G Kendrick Green
CB Josh Jackson
ILB Myles Jack
DT Jonathan Marshall
PANTHERS INACTIVE PLAYERS
S Juston Burris
OL Larnel Coleman
DE Amaré Barno
Myles Jack did end up inactive after being upgraded to questionable from doubtful. Mark Robinson could possibly get some reps, but Robert Spillane should be in line to start next to Devin Bush.
START OF GAME.
TJ Watt aligned at inside backer on the first down play and the run was stuffed for a loss of one. 2nd and 11, Hubbard up the middle for a gain of about two. 3rd and 9, a screen pass netted about 7 yards, but just short of the first. The Panthers will punt. Carolina remains the only team in the NFL to not score on an opening drive this season.
Mitch Trubisky takes the field from the 33 yard line. Najee Harris gained three one first down. Some heavy run packages on this first drive, but it netted them just one more yard on 2nd down. 3rd and 6, and Pittsburgh called a timeout. Not sure why. Diontae Johnson on the slant grabbed the 3rd down pass to convert in some traffic.
Jaylen Warren picked up three yards on 1st down before Najee checked back into the game. Najee found the edge and employed his stiff arm on two different defenders to gain 10 yards and another first down.
1st and 10, a short pass to Gunner Olszewski for 3 yards. On 2nd and 7, Najee Harris went off left tackle for a gain of 8. Another first down and the run game is finding an early rhythm.
On 1st and 10, Diontae Johnson picked up 4 yards on the quick pass to the boundary. Najee Harris rushed for 5 on 2nd down to set up 3rd and 1. Trubisky kept the ball on 3rd and rushed for four to convert. The next play an 11 yard completion to Jaylen Warren on the screen.
1st and goal, Najee Harris left end for 7 yards and a touchdown! 7-0 Steelers.
A nice return on the kickoff for the Panthers, but a penalty backs them up to their own 15 yard line.
Mark Robinson got in on the action with a tackle on 1st down. On 2nd and 11 Devin Bush stuffed Foreman for no gain. On 3rd and 11, Darnold complete to Moore for 14 yards and a conversion. Cam Sutton just barely out of position.
On 1st and 10, Foreman rushed for 2 yards. Ineligible downfield the next play to make it 2nd and 13. Cam Heyward brought the pressure and forced the throwaway. 3rd and 13, a 40 yard completion to Terrace Marshall.
1st and goal from the 7 yard line, Foreman tackled for a loss.
END OF 1ST QUARTER 7-0 STEELERS.
On 2nd and goal from the 8, Hubbard up the middle for a gain of 3. On 3rd, Darnold escaped the pocket and drilled DJ Moore for the touchdown in the front corner of the end zone. 7-7 Even.
Touchback on the kickoff. Trubisky takes over and completes a short pass to Zach Gentry for just four yards. Najee Harris picked up 5 on 2nd down to set up 3rd and 1. Trubisky kept the ball up the middle for a gain of 4.
Najee Harris picked up 7 yards on 1st down behind Moore and Dotson’s nice blocks. Jaylen Warren up the middle for no gain on 2nd down. 3rd and 3, Kevin Dotson false start. The next play was defensive offside, so back to 3rd and 3. A deep pass from Trubisky to George Pickens with strong hands. Making a difficult catch look easy.
On 1st and 10, Jaylen Warren rushed for a gain of about 9. Warren up the middle on 2nd for enough to convert.
On 1st and goal from the 7 yard line, Jaylen Warren up the middle for 5. Timeout #1 from the Panthers. 2nd and goal from the two, Jaylen Warren punched it in for the touchdown. 14-7 Steelers.
On 1st and 10, Darnold scrambled and evaded multiple would-be sacks to gain three. On 2nd and 7, Foreman up the middle for 4 yards. That’s a 50% increase on their rushing production so far in this game on one play. False start backs up the 3rd and short to 3rd and 8. The pass was off target intended for Laviska Shenault. The punt was downed at the 30 yard line.
Najee Harris rushed for just one yard on 1st down. He was angry with one of the Panthers defenders after the play. 2nd down, a pass to Diontae Johnson for a gain of four yards. 3rd and 5, Trubisky incomplete to Pickens. The punt downed at the 27 yard line. Just 38 yards for Harvin.
TJ Watt sacked Darnold on 3rd and 10 to force the three-and-out. The Steelers get the ball back with 3:43 and two timeouts. Time basically isn’t a factor and if they aren’t careful they could give the Panthers another chance before the half.
Najee Harris gained just one yard on 1st. Trubisky found Pickens on 2nd down for 15 yards.
1st and 10, Steven Sims rushed for a loss of three.
TWO MINUTE WARNING.
Trubisky to Sims for a gain of 10. 3rd and 3, another Sims targets, but nearly picked off. Incomplete pass.
Pressley Harvin’s punt was nearly kept out of the endzone for the touchback on an exciting tip drill, but it was ruled a touchback.
Hubbard rushed for 2 yards on first down. Another play to Hubbard, this time a pass for 6 yards. 3rd and 2, Darnold incomplete with Minkah Fitzpatrick breaking up the pass. The punt went 63 yards to flip the field. The Steelers have 00:42 with one timeout.
Jaylen Warren wasn’t able to get out of bounds on 1st down as he chose to leap the defender. Tomlin decided to just let the clock run to halftime. Steelers will get the ball.
END OF HALF: 14-7 STEELERS.
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