After Further Review: Redemption in relief

After further review …

"Better late than never, I guess."

That was Mitch Trubisky's explanation for what we saw from the backup quarterback pressed into action in the defining moments of what became a 20-18 upset of Tampa Bay, as opposed to what we'd seen from the starting quarterback against Cincinnati, New England, Cleveland and the New York Jets.

The Mitch Trubisky we'd anticipated finally arrived at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday.

Welcome to Pittsburgh.

This Mitch Trubisky hit wide receiver Chase Claypool over the middle for 16 yards on third-and-15.

This Trubisky found wide receiver George Pickens on a comeback route past the sticks for 14 yards on third-and-13.

This Trubisky located Claypool for 17 yards (over the middle again) on third-and-15.

And this Trubisky improvised after escaping the pocket and rolling left and eventually hooked up with Claypool for 26 yards on third-and-11.

Those last two Trubisky-to-Claypool connections moved the chains on a possession that began with 4:38 left in regulation and the Steelers clinging to a two-point lead.

"Especially with Tom (Brady) on the other side, we couldn't play it safe," Claypool acknowledged.

The idea, initially, was "for me to run the ball, to run the clock out," running back Najee Harris offered. "To make as many positive runs as possible so second down could be short or it could be a manageable second and third down."

That plan lasted all of one snap after an 8-yard Harris carry was followed by a bad snap and a near turnover that lost 13.

Hello, third-and-15.

Another negative play, this one a read/option-keeper that went awry resulted in the Steelers having to face a third-and-11.

Trubisky attacked and converted that one, as well.

What else do you need?

He used his arm and his legs to deliver as necessary while bleeding the game out.

He was who we thought he was.

And at a time when anything less might have put the game back in Brady's hands.

As heroic as the defense had played given the lineup limitations, no one wanted to see it come to that.

The read/option-keeper that gained 9 yards and took the clock to the two-minute warning was the cherry on top of Trubisky's Sunday.

He ran around cornerback Carlton Davis III and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. on that one.

The exclamation point was the 3-yard sneak that followed.

Trubisky celebrated that by popping up and signaling "First Down."

After that it was time to kneel down.

Head coach Mike Tomlin assessed Trubisky as "professional," as Tomlin has all along.

Defensive tackle Cam Heyward credited Trubisky with proving he was "ready for the moment."

Added Claypool: "He did his thing."

This was a Trubisky who looked like he was willing to pull the trigger and let it rip, to borrow a Kenny Pickett-ism, in relief.

Much more so than Trubisky had been as a starter.

"Yeah, I guess so," Trubisky said. "It just felt good today. I felt relaxed. I like to think I'm usually relaxed, even when I start. But maybe I was, maybe I was more relaxed.

"I went in there, really tried to play free."

Better late than never, indeed

And just in time for Trubisky and the Steelers.

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