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Bailey Zappe, Pats dump Steelers, end 5-game skid

Bailey Zappe, Pats dump Steelers, end 5-game skid thumbnail
Bailey Zappe threw for three touchdowns and the New England Patriots held off a fourth-quarter rally by the host Pittsburgh Steelers to earn a 21-18 victory on Thursday night.Trailing 21-10, Pittsb

Bailey Zappe threw for three touchdowns and the New England Patriots held off a fourth-quarter rally by the host Pittsburgh Steelers to earn a 21-18 victory on Thursday night.

Trailing 21-10, Pittsburgh (7-6) blocked Bryce Baringer’s punt and took over at the Patriots 26-yard line with 13:23 left in the game.

Two plays after a defensive pass interference penalty moved the ball to the New England 1, Steelers quarterback Mitchell Trubisky plunged into the end zone. He then found Pat Freiermuth on the ensuing two-point conversion, trimming the Patriots’ lead to 21-18 with 11:44 to go.

The Steelers ended up getting three more possessions, with their penultimate drive beginning with 2:44 remaining. They worked up to their own 49 but failed to convert a fourth-and-2, and New England (3-10) ran down the clock, giving the ball back to the hosts with just 15 seconds left.

A pair of deep passes got Pittsburgh into New England territory, but the second completion came as the clock hit zeros.

Zappe completed 19 of 28 passes for 240 yards and was picked off once. Ezekiel Elliott totaled 140 yards from scrimmage (68 rushing, 72 receiving) for the Patriots, who snapped a five-game skid.

New England’s JuJu Smith-Schuster hauled in four catches for 90 yards against his former team, while Hunter Henry caught a pair of touchdown passes.

Trubisky logged 190 yards, one TD and one interception on 22-of-35 passing. Najee Harris was held to 29 yards on 12 carries as Pittsburgh lost for the third time in the past four games.

After losing 6-0 to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, New England scored just 3:48 into the Thursday game when Zappe found Elliott for an 11-yard touchdown.

Chris Boswell capped the Steelers’ ensuing drive with a 56-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

Jabrill Peppers picked off Trubisky to open the second quarter, and two plays later, Zappe found Henry in the end zone for an 8-yard TD to put the Patriots up 14-3 with 14:14 left in the first half.

Zappe then connected with Henry for another score — this time from 24 yards out — to give New England an 18-point cushion with 7:38 remaining until the break.

Trubisky threw a 25-yard scoring strike to Diontae Johnson around five minutes later to pull Pittsburgh within 21-10 entering halftime.