Tar Heels in the pros: Andrew Miller's postseason ends, Trubisky makes NFL start
Former UNC pitcher Andrew Miller, the man who played a huge role in getting the Cleveland Indians to the World Series in 2016, will watch the rest of the 2017 MLB Playoffs from home.
The New York Yankees eliminated the Indians on Wednesday night with a 5-2 Game Five victory. The win was the Yankees' third in a row after the Indians started the series with a 2-0 lead. Miller pitched two innings in the loss, allowing two hits and zero runs while striking out five.
Miller finished the 2017 postseason with five innings pitched, eight strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA. In Game Three, he allowed the only run of the game, a seventh-inning home run, and took the loss. However, Miller had a strong regular season, pitching to a 1.44 ERA in 62.2 innings while striking out 95 batters.
On the gridiron, Mitchell Trubisky, UNC's starting quarterback from a season ago, got his first taste of NFL action when he started for the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. In front of a national audience, Trubisky completed seven of his first nine passes before tapering off towards the end of the game in the Bears' 20-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Trubisky did throw his first career touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller and tacked on a two-point run of his own on a creative conversion play that garnered a lot of social media attention.
It was a day of ups and downs for Trubisky. With the game tied at 17 and only 2:30 left in the game, the rookie rolled to his right while deep in his own territory. On the run, he tried to force the ball into the hands of a receiver covered 15 yards downfield and ended up with a costly interception that allowed the Vikings to score a game-winning field goal.
Trubisky is joined on the Bears by former UNC kicker Connor Barth. Barth has hit two of four field goals on the year, including a 54-yard boot in week one against the Atlanta Falcons. Barth has converted all eight of his extra point attempts on the season.
2008 UNC alumnus Brandon Tate also picked up a score for the Buffalo Bills this weekend.
Former Tar Heel defensive ends Julius Peppers and Robert Quinn both picked up sacks on Sunday for their respective teams. Peppers now has 5.5 sacks on the year, tied for fifth-best in the NFL, and has showed no signs of slowing down in his 16th professional season. Quinn has 2.5 sacks on the year, good for second-best on the Los Angeles Rams.
Other Tar Heel standouts in the NFL include linebacker Zach Brown, who, after a 2016 Pro Bowl campaign for the Bills, has found a new home with the Washington Redskins. Brown has not disappointed, notching 42 tackles in four games, good for seventh-best in the league.
After three years with the Carolina Panthers, safety Tre Boston made the move to Los Angeles and has impressed with the Chargers, picking up 26 tackles and one interception through five contests.
Former fan-favorite running back Giovani Bernard scored receiving touchdowns in consecutive weeks before having a quiet day on Sunday, rushing for just two yards. It has, however, been a solid year for Bernard, who has 255 yards from scrimmage for the Cincinnati Bengals.
With 23 former Tar Heels on NFL rosters, including one future Hall-of-Famer in Peppers, the Tar Heels have a deep influence on the game. That influence will grow even larger if Trubisky lives up to the talent that caused the Bears to move up in the draft to nab him second overall.