Packers edged in Pittsburgh despite Hundley’s breakout game
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brett Hundley wanted this one for his teammates.
The embattled Green Bay quarterback, filling in for the injured Aaron Rodgers, enjoyed a breakout performance in the national spotlight, but Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown ruined Hundley’s moment.
Roethlisberger and Brown guided the Steelers to a four-play, 35-yard drive in 17 seconds, leading to Chris Boswell’s 53-yard field goal as time expired that gave the Steelers a 31-28 victory over the Packers on Sunday night.
“I love my teammates, I’ve had so much support from them, and that’s why it hurts,” Hundley said. “They’ve supported me throughout this whole thing, and I’m trying to make sure we have an opportunity to win and I’m playing my best for them.”
Hundley ended 17 of 26 for 245 yards with three touchdown passes and zero interceptions. A week earlier, Hundley threw three interceptions without a touchdown in a 23-0 loss against Baltimore, the Packers’ first home shutout defeat in 11 years.
“To retaliate after last week’s performance, it wasn’t what he wanted and bouncing back shows his true character,” Packers receiver Davante Adams said. “I think after he sees things he can correct, he’ll come back stronger next week.”
Green Bay won four of its first five games before Rodgers suffered a broken right collarbone in the first quarter of a Week 6 game at Minnesota. The Packers lost that game and have now won just one of Hundley’s five starts.
But Sunday’s start showed growth as Hundley tossed two TDs in the first quarter alone. He had two touchdown passes and seven interceptions in his previous five games since Rodgers broke his collarbone.
Adams caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Jamaal Williams and Randall Cobb also hauled in scores.
“I thought he did a really good job of running the offense,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, a Pittsburgh native. “I thought he took a huge step.”
Hundley found Cobb for a 39-yard touchdown, Williams for a 54-yard screen pass in the first quarter and Adams for a 55-yard touchdown on the sixth play of the second half. Hundley also marched the Packers on a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter, needing 12 plays to go 77 yards for the touchdown. He connected with Adams for an eight-yard pickup on fourth-and-six from the Pittsburgh 12, which led to Williams’ second touchdown of the game to even the score with 2:02 to play.
“It was really intense, but we had confidence,” Adams said of the fourth-quarter drive. “Brett was poised on that drive. He’s a young guy, but he showed a lot of wisdom and he looked like he was under control.”
Hundley also picked apart a Steelers defense that has allowed six touchdowns of at least 39 yards in the last three weeks and six scores of 50-plus yards this season, most in the NFL.
Green Bay, which hasn’t won in Pittsburgh since 1970, has now lost five of six, including the last two. The Packers, who defeated Pittsburgh almost seven years ago in Super Bowl XLV, were two games below .500 last season before reeling off eight straight wins to reach the NFC Championship game.
Hundley and the Packers are faced with a similar situation this season, now at 5-6 overall.
“We still have some games left to play and we have to make the most of them,” Hundley said. “This one hurts, but we really have to focus on this last stretch. We can’t look too far ahead. The next one coming up is the most important.”