By R.L. Bynum
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky knew after throwing three interceptions a week earlier in a loss that he had to play a clean game if the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to rebound.
In his first start since Week 4, he led three long, time-consuming drives and was efficient in a turnover-free game to lead the Steelers to a 24–16 road victory Sunday over the Carolina Panthers.
“It feels great,” said Trubisky, who completed 17 of 22 passes for 179 yards, ran for 19 yards and a touchdown, and put up a 100.4 quarterback rating. “The only thing I cared about today was winning, staying on the field, converting those third downs and helping this team win. So it was the emphasis all week.
“I know I had to protect the football and that’s what I did today,” said Trubisky, who earned his first victory as a starter since the Week 1 23–20 win at Cincinnati. “I’m just proud of all the other guys for sticking together, believing in me, letting me lead us today and coming away with the victory. So, it definitely feels good and it’s awesome.”
He started in place of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who is in concussion protocol after getting hurt in last week’s 16–14 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Trubisky entered that game in the second quarter and was 22 of 30 for 276 yards and a touchdown with some solid drives but threw three interceptions.
“I know what I can do in this league,” Trubisky said. “It feels good to be able to get this opportunity and come through and to have my teammates trust in me.”
That Ravens game had been his first action since throwing a touchdown pass in Week 6 when Pittsburgh (6–8) beat the Tampa Bay Bucs 20–18 on Oct. 16. Trubisky’s quarterback rating in Charlotte is second only this season to the 142.4 he put up against the Bucs.
Trubisky shared first-team reps all week in practice with Mason Rudolph, and Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t name him the starter for the game until Saturday.
“He managed [the game] well,” Tomlin said. “I thought he kept the ball off the ground. He played clean and had a high completion percentage. But it’s easier to do those things when you’re playing behind an effective run game.”
In a ground-oriented Steelers attack against the Panthers, Pittsburgh rushed 45 times for 156 yards and was 12 of 16 on third-down conversions.
“It was an emphasis this week that we’re gonna pound the ball, lean on the O-line in the run game, and they did a great job creating holes for the running backs, and it makes my job easier,” Trubisky said. “Staying ahead of the chains was huge, and then being efficient on third down to extend those long drives was critical for us today.”
Trubisky engineered first-half touchdown drives of 67 and 75 yards to earn the Steelers a 14–7 halftime lead.
Pittsburgh’s 21-play, 91-yard, 11-minute, 43-second drive to start the second half ended with Trubisky reaching the ball over the goal line for a 1-yard scoring run. That was the second-longest drive in the NFL since 2001. The only drive with more plays came on Oct. 7, 2007, a 24-play New Orleans drive against the Panthers that resulted in a blocked field-goal attempt.
“That might have been the longest I’ve been a part of,” Trubisky said of the third-quarter drive, which included three third-down conversions. “It’s huge to cap it off with the touchdown. Just a great job by the O-line up front. They did a great job protecting me on third down and then creating those holes for the running game. That’s a long drive, and I think that really set the tone for the rest of the game. … Just a lot of credit to those guys up front. They did a phenomenal job, the backs ran hard and we made great catches on third down.”
Michael Carter only touched the ball five times as his usage with the New York Jets continues to fall in favor of former N.C. State running back Bam Knight. In the Jets’ 20–17 home loss Sunday to Detroit, Carter only ran for 15 yards on four carries. Knight ran for eight more yards but on 13 carries, and wasn’t targeted for a pass.
Although Knight started, he played only 30 offensive snaps compared to 33 for Carter.
Carter made a terrific catch in the third quarter on a poorly thrown pass from quarterback Zach Wilson. The 16-yard gain came in the only pass targeted for Carter.
In the Las Vegas Raiders’ amazing 30–24 home win over New England Patriots, Mack Hollins had four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.
With the time already expired, the Patriots began lateraling to try to extend a play with the score tied. The Raiders’ Chandler Jones caught an unnecessary lateral from New England’s Jakobi Myers and returned it 48 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Hollins was on the field for that play, his lone defensive snap of the game.
On the game-tying drive, Hollins caught passes for 12 yards (on a fourth-and-10) and 13 yards on successive plays ahead of Keelan Cole’s 30-yard touchdown reception with 37 seconds left.
Hollins caught a five-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left in the first half from quarterback Derek Carr as the Raiders took a 17–3 halftime lead.
After downing a punt in the third quarter, Hollins did the “griddy.”
Interim Coach Jeff Saturday was part of dubious history on Saturday when his Indianapolis Colts were victims of the biggest comeback in NFL history. Indianapolis led 33–0 in the third quarter but lost 39–36 in overtime at Minnesota. After playing the previous week for the Vikings, Myles Dorn was back on their practice squad.
Coach Arthur Smith’s Atlanta Falcons lost 21–18 Sunday at New Orleans. Falcons defensive tackle Jalen Dalton played 18 defensive snaps off the bench and had one tackle. James Hurst, who turned 31 last week, started at left tackle for the Saints and played all 55 offensive snaps.
In Houston’s 39–24 overtime home loss Sunday to Kansas City, Texans safety M.J. Stewart had six tackles, a season-high, and two assists off the bench in 54 total snaps.
Texans right tackle Charlie Heck started for the first time this season in a special game since his father, Andy, is the Chiefs’ offensive line coach.
“It was awesome,” Charlie Heck said. “It was a special opportunity to go out there and play against my dad. That doesn’t happen often, so that was very special to see him pregame and postgame. I wish we could have gotten that win.
“He played in the NFL,” he said. “Watching him as a player and a coach, I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps. So, it was cool for it to all come together like that.”
After coming into the game with only 23 offensive snaps all season, Heck played all 63 offensive snaps in addition to four special-teams snaps. Left guard Kenyon Green was out with a sprained ankle, giving Heck a chance to play more. Normal right tackle Tytus Howard switched to left guard.
In Tampa Bay’s 34–23 home loss Sunday to Cincinnati, Giovani Bernard had one carry for no yards. He fumbled a direct snap out of a punt formation on a fourth-and-one from the Bucs 26 early in the third quarter. He recovered it, but the Bengals took over at the Bucs 16 and kicked a field goal five plays later. Bernard only played 12 special-teams snaps.
Bernard had an awkward exchange with reporters after the game.
In the New York Giants’ 20–12 road victory Sunday night over Washington, Tomon Fox played 23 total snaps off the bench with no statistics. Offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu went on injured reserve last week with a neck injury.
For the Commanders, Dyami Brown rushed once for 15 yards and had no catches on two targets in 12 total snaps. Sam Howell wasn’t active for the game with the return of Carson Wentz to the active roster.
Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Bucs running back
Age 31 | 5–9, 205 | 10th NFL season | UNC 2011–12
34–23 Sunday loss vs. Cincinnati — 1 carry, 0 yards, 1 fumble (recovered); 12 special-teams snaps (48%)
Season statistics — 5 games, 1 carry, 0 yards
Up next — 8:20 Sunday at Arizona, NBC
Dyami Brown, Washington Commanders wide receiver
Age 23 | 6–0, 195 | second NFL season | UNC 2018–20
20–12 Sunday loss vs. New York Giants — 1 rush, 15 yards; 0 catches on 2 targets; 10 offensive snaps (16%), 2 special-teams snaps (8%)
Season statistics — 12 games, 5 catches on 12 targets for 143 yards (28.6 average, 75 longest), 2 TDs; 1 rush, 15 yards, 1 special-teams assist
Up next — 4:05 Saturday at San Francisco, CBS
Michael Carter, New York Jets running back
Age 23 | 5–8, 201 | second NFL season | UNC 2017–20
20–17 Sunday loss vs. Detroit — Didn’t start; 4 carries, 15 yards (6 longest); 1 catch on 1 target, 16 yards; 4.10 fantasy points; 33 offensive snaps (52%)
Season statistics — 13 games, 9 starts; 108 carries, 390 yards (25 longest, 3.6 average), 3 TDs; 32 catches on 42 targets, 240 yards (37 longest, 7.5 average)
Up next — 8:15 Thursday vs. Jacksonville, Prime Video
Jalen Dalton, Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle
Age 25 | 6–6, 300 | third NFL season | UNC 2015–18
21–18 Sunday loss at New Orleans — 1 tackle; 33 defensive snaps (18%)
Season statistics — 5 games, 4 tackles, 4 assists
Up next — 1 p.m. Saturday at Baltimore, Fox
Tomon Fox, New York Giants linebacker
Age 24 | 6–3, 260 | rookie NFL season | UNC 2016–21
20–12 Sunday win at Washington — Played off the bench with no statistics; 8 defensive snaps (13%), 15 special-teams snaps (60%)
Season statistics — 10 games, 2 starts; 7 tackles, 7 assists, 1 sack
Up next — 1 p.m. Saturday at Minnesota, Fox
Charlie Heck, Houston Texans tackle
Age 26 | 6–8, 311 | third NFL season | UNC 2015–19
30–24 OT Sunday loss vs. Kansas City — Started at right tackle; 63 offensive snaps (100%), 4 special-teams snaps (14%).
Season statistics — 11 games, 2 starts; 86 offensive snaps, 41 special-teams snaps
Up next — 1 p.m. Saturday at Tennessee, CBS
Mack Hollins, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver
Age 29 | 6–4, 221 | sixth NFL season | UNC 2013–16
30–24 Sunday win vs. New England — Started; 4 catches on 8 targets for 40 yards (13 longest), 1 TD; 60 offensive snaps (88%), 1 defensive snap (2%), 3 special-teams snaps (9%)
Season statistics — 14 games, 10 starts; 1 of 1 passing, 4 yards; 4 rush, 40 yards (10.0 average; 17 longest); 51 catches on 76 targets, 628 yards (12.3 average, 60 longest), 4 TDs
Up next — 8:15 Saturday at Pittsburgh, NFL Network
Sam Howell, Washington Commanders quarterback
Age 22 | 6–1, 220 | rookie NFL season |UNC 2019–21
20–12 Sunday loss vs. New York Giants — Wasn’t active for the game
Season statistics — Hasn’t played
Up next — 4:05 Saturday at San Francisco, CBS
James Hurst, New Orleans Saints tackle
Age 31 | 6–5, 310 | ninth NFL season | UNC 2010–13
21–18 Sunday win vs. Atlanta — Started at left tackle; 55 offensive snaps (100%)
Season statistics — 12 games; 12 starts, 1 fumble recovery, 1 tackle on an interception return; 792 offensive snaps, 26 special-teams snaps
Up next — 1 p.m. Saturday at Cleveland, CBS
M.J. Stewart Jr., Houston Texans safety
Age 27 | 5–11, 200 | fifth NFL season | UNC 2014–17
30–24 OT Sunday loss vs. Kansas City — Played off the bench; 6 tackles, 2 assists; 8.0 fantasy points; 30 defensive snaps (39%), 24 special-teams snaps (86%)
Season statistics — 14 games; 23 tackles, 5 assists, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 fumble recovery, 7 special-teams tackles, 3 special-teams assists
Up next — 1 p.m. Saturday at Tennessee, CBS
Mitchell Trubisky, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback
Age 28 | 6–2, 220 | sixth NFL season | UNC 2014–16
24–16 Sunday win at Carolina — Started; 17 of 22, 179 yards (38 longest), 0 TD, 0 INTs, 1 sack; 6 carries, 9 yards (4 longest), 1 TD, 100.4 QB rating, 14.06 fantasy points; 68 offensive snaps (100%)
Season statistics — 7 games, 5 starts; 117 of 180, 1,252 yards (45 longest), 4 TDs, 5 INTs, 11 sacks; 19 rushes, 38 yards, 1 TD
Up next — 8:15 p.m. Saturday vs. Las Vegas, NFL Network
Out for the season
Running back Javonte Williams, Denver (torn ACL in right knee); 4 games, 4 starts; 47 carries, 204 yards (4.3 average, 17 longest); 16 catches on 22 targets, 76 yards (4.8 average, 13 longest)
On injured reserve
Running back Ty Chandler, Minnesota, broken thumb (2 games, 1 special-team assist)
Offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu, New York Giants, neck injury (10 games, 2 starts; 245 offensive snaps, 136 special-teams snaps)
Linebacker Cole Holcomb, Washington, foot injury (7 games, 7 starts; 37 tackles, 32 assists)
Defensive end Robert Quinn, Philadelphia, knee injury (12 games, 7 starts; 8 tackles (1 for a loss), 2 assists, 1 sack)
On practice squads
Fullback Jake Bargas, Miami Dolphins (signed Nov. 9; released in camp first by Vikings, then by Bears)
Defensive tackle Aaron Crawford, New York Giants (signed Nov. 9; Ravens released him during training cap)
Defensive back Myles Dorn, Minnesota Vikings (5 games, 1 tackle, 1 special-teams tackle)
Cornerback Kyler McMichael, Buffalo Bills
Linebacker Chazz Surratt, New York Jets (released by Minnesota)
Signed to practice squads, then released
Wide receiver Dazz Newsome, Kansas City (released earlier in camp by Chicago)
Released during camp and unsigned
Linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel, Denver (earlier by San Francisco)
Wide receiver Austin Proehl, New York Giants
Offensive tackle Jordan Tucker, Pittsburgh
Released from injured reserve with settlement
Tight end Bug Howard, Tampa Bay
Released after Week 3
Running back Antonio Williams, New York Giants
Released after Week 5
Linebacker Andre Smith, Buffalo Bills (hasn’t played; served a suspension for violating NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy)
Photo via @steelers