Kenny Pickett leads Steelers to playoffs

Kenny Pickett leads another Steelers comeback to keep playoffs in sight

kenny pickett

On Sunday night, Kenny Pickett clutched a football as he travelled through the tunnels beneath M&T Bank Stadium after engineering his second consecutive game-winning drive, this one to defeat the Baltimore Ravens 16-13 and keep the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ fragile playoff hopes alive.

Pickett not only avoided postseason elimination and Mike Tomlin’s first losing season as a head coach, but he also received his first game ball from the “Sunday Night Football” crew.

“I’ll probably send that back home to my parents and they can put that one up in our house,” he said, adding that running back Najee Harris got one, too, after his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.

Pickett’s cool demeanour and precise passing allowed the Steelers (8-8) march the field and score the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute remaining to complete the comeback for the second week in a row. Kenny Pickett completed 5 of 6 passes for 64 yards and converted two short-yardage third downs on sneaks to propel the Steelers 80 yards in 3 minutes, 20 seconds, capped by Harris’ 10-yard touchdown.

On the last drive, Pickett was 3-of-4 (including the touchdown) on throws of at least 10 yards downfield. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he was 3-of-7 on such throws before to that drive.

“I can’t say enough about our young quarterback,” Tomlin said Sunday night. “He smiled in the face of it. He’s always ready to be that guy in the moments that we need him. And it’s just good to see the young guy. We marched forward.”

Prior to Sunday, the Steelers were 0-7 when down by double digits, one of only seven teams this season without a double-digit comeback.

Kenny Pickett finished the night having completed 15 of 27 attempts for 168 yards and one touchdown, aided by a 198-yard running game. He is only the third rookie quarterback to win a game in Baltimore, behind Mitch Trubisky (2017) and Jake Plummer (2016). (1997).

Kenny Pickett connected with Harris on third down with 56 seconds remaining, a week after finding George Pickens for the game-winning touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders with 46 seconds remaining. Pickett kept his eyes downfield as he rolled out of the pocket and escaped Baltimore’s pressure. Pickett fired a pass to a dazed Harris.

“He did a great job of extending and slipping past the linebacker,” Pickett said. “I just wanted to extend long enough to where those guys could free themselves up a little bit.”

According to Elias Sports Bureau analysis, Pickett became the only rookie since at least the 1970 merger to throw a go-ahead touchdown in the last minute of regulation in back-to-back games.

“We see the moxie in our quarterback,” outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. “We’ve seen our guys go out and ball out and practice all season long. So we weren’t surprised.”

The Steelers’ offence was confident in their rookie quarterback after being part of a late game-winning drive a week earlier when it took the field losing by four with 4:16 remaining – even though it hadn’t scored a touchdown all night. Earlier in the game, kicker Chris Boswell nailed three field goal attempts to keep the Steelers in the game, but he missed a 48-yarder in the second quarter that would’ve given them a 6-3 lead.

Even yet, the Steelers knew they were going to score as they took the field on their final drive.

“There was energy — it was almost like we had the confidence — like we knew we were going to go down there and score,” left tackle Dan Moore Jr. said of the huddle on the final drive.

Even when the Steelers were 2-6 at the bye, the offence believed in Pickett from the moment he took over as quarterback. Another fourth-quarter comeback win only cemented that view.

“We can win with him, and he’s going to show up in big moments,” tight end Pat Freiermuth said. “We never questioned that, but seeing him delivering those big moments, and the guys stepping up and especially the line … and receivers making plays and stuff. You have all the confidence in the world.”

The offense’s faith in its quarterback is mutual, and it will be crucial as the Steelers reach Week 18, when a win over the Cleveland Browns, along with losses by the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, would put them in the playoffs.

The offense’s faith in its quarterback is mutual, and it will be crucial as the Steelers reach Week 18, when a win over the Cleveland Browns, along with losses by the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, would put them in the playoffs.

“Confidence that I had in myself is showing up on the field, and I think guys are starting to feel that, which is always good,” Pickett said. “Going into the huddle and seeing how confident everyone is, as a quarterback you know they have a lot of belief in you, and I have a lot of belief in those guys in the huddle. When that is there you definitely have a shot. So, it’s a step in the right direction. There’s a lot of business left to take care of.”