The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks, and rookie QB Kenny Pickett was the toast of the town.
It was a fairy tale start to the NFL career of a player who’s counted as a local son by Steelers fans. The ending of this game just could not have gone any better.
Pitt was Kenny Pickett’s collegiate football team, and the Steelers selected him in the first round this year. He is currently vying for the starting quarterback role. Right now, he’s competing with veterans Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in a three-way race.
Coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers fans, however, will remember how Pickett finished the Seahawks off in their preseason opener.
With the score knotted at 25, Pickett was sacked against the Seattle Seahawks late in the fourth quarter on a fourth-down play. At that moment, it seemed like the perfect ending to his NFL debut just was not meant to be.
But there was a twist coming yet. The Steelers eventually forced a turnover, giving Pickett another opportunity to finish his preseason opener with a grand flourish.
He delivered when it counted the most.
The rookie led a 5-play, 43-yard drive that concluded with a 24-yard pass to Tyler Vaughns.
The Steelers won the game, and Pickett won the fans’ hearts.
Kenny Pickett TD with :03 left in the game. Check out this view… Right at me @kdka pic.twitter.com/5WUoI6JPhc
— Rich Walsh KDKA (@RichieWalsh) August 14, 2022
The Steelers had a 32-25 victory that thrilled the fans so much they were chanting “Kenny” throughout the second half whenever the offense was on the field.
Pickett could certainly hear the appreciation from the Steelers faithful.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” Pickett said. “It was an incredible feeling. It was really cool. It was special.”
Kenny Pickett on if he could hear the "Kenny" chants: "I could. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. It was an incredible feeling. I had a lot of family members here. My grandfather was able to come out. It was special. It was really cool." #Steelers @937theFan
— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) August 14, 2022
Pickett finished the game with pretty impressive numbers. He was 13-of-15, passing for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The hype and atmosphere may have intimidated other players, but Pickett had no issue. He led a scoring drive on his first series and also provided the aforementioned late-game heroics.
Pickett didn’t take a lot of chances downfield, but he showed high-level accuracy and ball placement. He also didn’t turn the ball over, which is a major accomplishment for a rookie.
What an amazing moment 🖤💛💙
Kenny Pickett takes the field for the @Steelers to make his @NFL debut.#H2P » #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/rl89VQqlsT
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) August 14, 2022
Tomlin acknowledged in his postgame news conference that Pickett’s performance pleased him.
“You know he moved his group,” Tomlin said. “He played situational football. He displayed a competitive spirit — a lot of good things to build on from a first performance standpoint.”
Pickett’s debut was rock-solid and should give Pittsburgh fans hope for the future.