Thursday Night Football: Bailey Zappe, Patriots hang on late to beat Steelers

The Mitch Trubisky-led offense in Pittsburgh did not look great on Thursday night

Bailey Zappe and the Patriots picked up their third win of the season on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

Bailey Zappe got the job done.

Zappe led the New England Patriots to a much-needed 21-18 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night at Acrisure Stadium. Zappe threw three touchdownsin the first half en route to the win, which marked just the Patriots’ third on the season. While Zappe and the Patriots’ offense looked solid, the Steelers — led by backup Mitch Trubisky after Kenny Pickett’s ankle injury — did not.

Trubisky and the Steelers struggled badly in the first half. The Patriots jumped up to a 21-3 lead thanks to a huge interception early in the second quarter and a pair of touchdowns to tight end Hunter Henry — which made him just the fifth player in the last 30 years to record at least two touchdowns while playing on his birthday.

The Steelers finally scored right before halftime after Trubisky hit Diontae Johnson for a 25-yard score.

Pittsburgh had plenty of chances in the second half, too, but failed to convert deep in the red zone in the fourth quarter after intercepting Zappe. Miles Killebrew blocked a Patriots punt in the fourth quarter, which set the Steelers up with great field position once again. That led to a Trubisky 1-yard touchdown run, which cut the game to just three points.

That, however, is as close as they got. Even with the Patriots’ offense stalling, Trubisky and the Steelers failed twice on fourth down. The Patriots edged out the three-point win.

Trubisky went 21-of-34 for 169 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the loss for pittsburgh. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 30 yards and a score on eight carries. Johnson had 57 yards on three receptions.

Zappe went 19-of-28 for 240 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for the Patriots. Ezekiel Elliott had 68 yards on 22 carries, and JuJu Smith-Schuster had 90 yards on four carries.

The Steelers, though hanging on in the AFC playoff race, have now lost three of their last four — and two games in the last five days to teams with a combined 6-20 record. With Pickett out for at least a few more weeks, time may be running out to make a postseason push based on how their offense looked on Thursday night.

Follow along as Yahoo Sports provides the latest news, scores and highlights from the late NFL slate in Week 14.

  • That's ... not great

  • The Steelers have now lost three of their last four games.

  • I don't get it. That would have kept the Steelers' drive alive...

  • The Steelers aren't done yet...

  • OK, we've got a game. Trubisky runs in a 1-yard score and the Steelers convert the 2-point conversion. Patriots lead 21-18.

  • The Steelers get great field position once again. Let's see if they can capitalize this time

  • Well, nevermind. Trubisky slid short of the first down line on a scramble and then the Patriots get the stop.

  • The Steelers suddenly have a chance to get right back in it.

  • Cam Heyward with his first sack of the night

  • The Steelers are moving early in the second half

  • 1st half stats:


    B. Zappe: 14-21, 196 yards, 3 TDs

    E. Elliott: 10 rushes, 22 yards; 4 receptions, 39 yards, 1 TD

    H. Henry: 3 receptions, 39 yards, 2 TDs

    3-7 on 3rd down

    219 total yards

    14:08 time of possession


    M. Trubisky: 6-11, 61 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 1 sack; 5 rushes, 20 yards

    D. Johnson: 1 reception, 25 yards, 1 TD

    J. Warren: 2 receptions, 20 yards

    1-6 on 3rd down

    112 total yards

    15:52 time of possession

  • The first half comes to an end and the Patriots remain ahead of the Steelers, 21-10.

  • The Steelers get their first touchdown of the night as Trubisky hits Diontae Johnson for 25 yards.

    21-10 Patriots with 2:50 left in the 2nd quarter.

  • Make that three touchdown passes for Zappe now and two TD catches for birthday boy Hunter Henry.

    21-3 Patriots.

  • On the other side is Bailey Zappe, who is 9-for-15 for 116 yards with two touchdowns through a quarter and a half.

  • Example of where Steelers fans are right now:

  • Steelers QB Mitch Trubisky is 3-for-7 for 19 yards with 1 interception. The Acrisure Stadium crowd has been displeased with his performance so far.

  • The Patriots are now up 14-3 after a second Mitch Trubisky interception...

  • Who needs a cake for their birthday, when they can score touchdowns instead?

  • Patriots strike first and quickly

  • Well, that was easy

  • Steelers reunion

  • It's never too early to start ugly sweater season

  • Steelers inactives

  • Inactive announcement

  • It's almost time for Thursday Night Football in Pittsburgh