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James Conner scores twice as Cardinals beat Steelers in complicated affair

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James Conner rushed for 105 yards and scored two touchdowns against his former team as the Arizona Cardinals beat the Steelers 24-10 on Sunday, the franchise’s first win in Pittsburgh since 1969.

Arizona (3-10) took control late in the first half with a 99-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 5-yard strike from Kyler Murray to Trey McBride. The Cardinals led the rest of the way, enduring two lengthy weather delays.

Pittsburgh (7-5) saw all the progress its offense made a week earlier disappear in a victory over Cincinnati. The Steelers lost starting quarterback Kenny Pickett to an ankle injury late in the first half and scored their only touchdown in the clock.

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Pickett wore a boot on his right foot during the second half as backup Mitch Trubisky took over and struggled to do anything as the Steelers let slip a chance to strengthen their position in the playoff race. the AFC.

There’s no postseason in sight for rebuilding Arizona, but the Cardinals have shown fight while improving to 2-2 since Murray’s return from a torn ACL in his right knee.

Murray completed 13 of 23 passes for 145 yards and 19 yards rushing. Arizona’s defense bounced back from a nightmare performance against the Rams a week ago, in which it had 37 points and 452 yards.

Pittsburgh had hoped to build on its win against the Bengals, the team’s first game since firing offensive coordinator Matt Canada and replacing him with Eddie Faulkner.

Instead, the Steelers took another step backwards as the NFL’s 28th-ranked scoring offense continued to struggle to find the end zone.

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner celebrates his touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers as Cardinals running back Michael Carter (22) looks on during the second half of a football game of the NFL, Sunday, December 3, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Trubisky completed 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown to Diontae Johnson.

The turning point came in the second quarter with the Steelers deep in Arizona territory. Pickett was tackled just short of the goal line while rushing on third down, and Cardinals defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter fell on Pickett’s legs.

Pickett tried to get up and then knelt on the grass. He was taken to the locker room for evaluation and then ruled out.

Trubisky entered and the Steelers elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Najee Harris was stuffed for no gain and the Cardinals responded with a 15-play, 99-yard drive – most of it in the pouring rain – that ended with a dart from Murray to McBridge.

Officials extended the half by more than 30 minutes as a series of storms swept through the game. The teams came back briefly, long enough for Steelers center Mason Cole to massacre Trubisky. The Cardinals fell on it, and eight plays later, Conner — a University of Pittsburgh star who went on to spend four seasons with the Steelers from 2017-2020 — rushed from a yard out to make it 17 -3.

The game was halted again – this time for 53 minutes – but there was no spark from Pittsburgh as the Steelers entered a short week with plenty of questions to answer on offense.

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Again.

INJURIES

Cardinals: RB Emari Demercado left with a neck injury in the first quarter after taking an illegal hit from Steelers LB Elandon Roberts and did not return. … WR Marquise Brown left in the third quarter with a heel injury.

Steelers: Roberts went out in the second quarter with a groin injury and returned briefly before leaving for good. … LG Isaac Seumalo left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

FOLLOWING

Cardinals: Next week off before hosting NFC West leader San Francisco on Dec. 17.

Steelers: Host New England (2-11) Thursday night.

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