Mitch Trubisky stood in front of the media in the Steelers’ locker room at Acrisure Stadium, and tears appeared to start to fill his eyes.
Trubisky, just a couple of hours early, was the Steelers’ starting quarterback. But, by the time the press assembled in front of his stall, he was a backup.
“He said ‘8’s in’ at halftime,” Trubisky said of his conversation with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin when he, at halftime, made a quarterback switch to rookie Kenny Pickett.
“That's about all he said.”
Trubisky led the Steelers to six points in the first half, completing 7 of 13 passes for 84 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked three times.
“Took some shots, didn't connect, didn't score enough points, got pulled at halftime,” he said, bluntly. “That's how it goes. It's just business as usual.
“We just got to find a way to pull together as a team and get better from here. So, (I’m) disappointed, obviously, but that's part of it.”
Trubisky seemed to be a mixture of bitter, frustrated, and upset while he spoke. While he didn't outwardly criticize anyone but himself, there was a sense that he was holding back some.
Pickett, meanwhile, entered and led the Steelers to two touchdowns, both rushes by the former Pitt star. But he also threw three second half interceptions, and the Steelers lost, 24-20.
Trubisky spent some time away from Pickett following the benching, but also sat on the bench with him on occasion, offering pointers alongside quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.
“Yeah, just trying to communicate, tell him what I'm seeing,” Trubisky said. “I thought he did did a good job. We just got to protect the football and get back to work.”
Putting Pickett in was, perhaps, a gamble. But it’s also a decision that Tomlin did in hopes of kickstarting an offense that seemed to be far too dull.
“We just thought we needed a spark,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t do much in the first half. Not enough offensively, and thought he could provide a spark for us.”
“Looking for a spark, there you go,” said Trubisky when informed of Tomlin’s comment.
Where Tomlin and the Steelers go from here will be interesting. Pickett put up touchdowns, but also turned the ball over, and did so in a key moment with under four minutes to go.
Plus, the Steelers — now 1-3 on the season despite not playing a team with a winning record — face, quite possibly, the AFC’s top team next week when they travel to Buffalo.
Because of those factors, does Trubisky feel he may still have a shot at returning to the top spot?
“Who knows? Who knows,” he said. “(I’ll) just come in to work, be a good teammate, continue to try to be a leader for this team and go back to work, help any way I can.
“It's a tough deal. It's definitely not what I wanted, not what I expected. But it's part of it.”