Following a disappointing second-half collapse in Week 11’s loss against their AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 12 hoping to put forth a better effort in primetime Monday night action against the Indianapolis Colts. Led by rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, the Steelers eeked out a tight victory with a final score of 24-17.

Despite a third-quarter skid that allowed the Colts to work themselves back into the game, Pickett and company fought hard to hold their lead and never let go. Though a 4-7 record is nothing to write home about, this is a statement victory for the first-year signal-caller and a defense that has struggled at times in the 2022 season to shut opponents down.

Steelers fans everywhere can point to this game as a potential season turning point and feel good about it. To that end, let’s check out a few Pittsburgh Steelers’ overreactions after their Week 12 win against the Colts.

1. Kenny Pickett proved he’s a franchise quarterback

Though the box score doesn’t leap off the page and scream “difference-maker,” Pickett looked better on Monday than he has all season. Since taking over as the starter midway through Week 4 against the New York Jets, the rookie out of Pitt has struggled with turnovers and critical errors at crucial moments of games. However, against the Colts, Pickett’s display of poise and execution of the offense proves he can be trusted as the future of the franchise at quarterback.

Pickett concluded the contest with 173 passing yards, completing 20 of his 28 attempts while throwing nary a touchdown nor interception. Beyond the stat sheet, the Steelers’ offense ended four of five first-half drives with points. Any time a rookie can help facilitate the necessary movement downfield to set up for points, it is a good sign for the future.

The moments in which Pickett stepped up, occurring late in the third quarter, stand out the most. After the half, the Steelers looked to be slipping away, and the score narrowed to 17-16 following a receiving touchdown from Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. on the preceding drive.

With the ball in their possession, Pickett guided an 11-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with a two-yard punch-in touchdown from running back Benny Snell and an incredibly impressive two-point conversion attempt to wide receiver George Pickens.

This type of command and pluckiness are signs that Pickett has been developing well and that any outside questioning of his fitness for being a franchise-level quarterback can be put to rest for the time being. Yes, it is still early in his career, and there is a lot of football left to play in the 2022 season. But, at this point in his inaugural campaign, Pickett is beginning to put it all together.

2. The old-school “ground and pound” Steelers’ rushing attack is back

The Steelers’ rushing attack had been virtually absent entering Week 12, ranking seventh-worst in the NFL in total rushing yards (1.078) and tenth-worst in yards per game (107.8), according to Pro Football Reference. This lack of success on the ground is a far cry from the historical identity of the franchise and certainly disappoints fans hoping to see this facet of the offense show up on a more consistent basis. However, despite an injury to starting running back Najee Harris that saw him leave Week 12, the results show that the Steelers’ rushing attack is back on track.

Backup Benny Snell Jr. dominated with 62 yards on 12 carries, mostly coming in the second half. The team’s total output of 172 yards marks the fourth-consecutive contest with over 100 rushing yards after only having two such games through the first seven weeks of 2022. Admittedly, there is a lot of ground to make up for deeming this a wholesale turnaround, but it is certainly encouraging to see some life from the Steelers’ backfield. Should this trend continue, this resurgent dimension of the Steelers’ offense will go a long way in aiding in the development of Pickett under center.

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3. George Pickens is the best rookie WR from the 2022 NFL Draft class

Week after week, the second-round rookie out of Georgia shows up on highlight reels. Though three catches on six targets for 57 yards do not leap off the screen from the box score, George Pickens once again showed why the Steelers committed proverbial theft in the 2022 NFL Draft. In addition to the two-point conversion Pickens caught from Pickett highlighted above, here is another fabulous catch from the talented first-year wideout:

Since Kenny Pickett took over as the Steelers’ starting quarterback in Week 4, Pickens ranks third among all rookie wide receivers in receptions (28) and receiving yards (388), according to Stathead. What makes these achievements more impressive is that the two players ahead of him in each category (Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets and Chris Olave of the New Orleans Saints) have played in eight games in that span to Pickens’ seven.

As the offense continues to find its footing and Pickett evolves as a professional quarterback, the future is looking tremendously bright for George Pickens. It may not be long until Pickens finds himself with Pro Bowl honors on his résumé and pundits look back on him as the bonafide number one receiver from this draft class.