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Ben Roethlisberger Analyzes Kenny Pickett’s First Start

It was nearly two decades ago but Ben Roethlisberger was once in Kenny Pickett’s shoes. A first career start, one on the road, in less than ideal conditions. Two games in, Roethlisberger and Pickett have similar career arcs, appearing in a game before their first start. And so Roethlisberger is as good a judge of any of how Pickett performed in yesterday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. On the latest episode of Footbhalin’, Roethlisberger gave his analysis. 

“The game turned so quick,” Roethlisberger said. “For Kenny’s first start, I thought he did well. Sustained some drives. Obviously, only three points is not what you want. He had a bunch of completions, lots of yards. I thought there were some plays that could’ve been made out there.”

Pickett went 34/52 for 327 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. Overall, Roethlisberger’s assessment is fair. Pickett was composed and didn’t look bothered by the moment of tough circumstances against him. But what matters most in the NFL is points, and aside from Pickett’s first drive, the offense failed to put anything on the board. As he alluded to, Steelers’ receivers failed to make plays, chiefly Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.

“He fought today,” Roethlisberger later said.

It’s the Steelers’ biggest loss since 1989, and the worst of the Mike Tomlin era. Roethlisberger never lost a game by more than 31 points, a 34-3 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016 and the 41-10 loss last season to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals and Bills games were both 31-3 at halftime and utterly non-competitive throughout.

Roethlisberger’s first start didn’t look pretty on the stat sheet, 12 of 22 with a touchdown and a pick in a road game against Miami impacted by a hurricane, but the Steelers won that day 13-3.

Pittsburgh will look to regroup next Sunday against a stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Roethlisberger discussed how Pickett and the Steelers will need to bounce back. In past years, a dud of a game meant burning the tape. Not this time.

“At 1-4, I don’t know if you can sit there and say, ‘Hey, let’s wash our hands of this and move on.’ You’ve got issues. You’ve got to figure out your issues.”

Roethlisberger’s guest this episode was former Steelers’ DL Brett Keisel, who saw his defense allow 38 points, and gave his view of how the defense is reacting to the terrible performance.

“When you give up a record amount of yardage. There’s been a lot of football in front you…you don’t want to be giving records out on that side of the ball…you have no time to feel sorry for yourself or to cry. You got to find a solution. Find it right now.”

Keisel said the losing streak will test the locker room and the players who make it up. But he said those who can meet the moment will emerge and the losses will bring out the best in certain players.

Both acknowledged the transitional phase the Steelers are in for the post-Roethlisberger era, a team who enjoyed Hall of Fame-caliber play for the better part of the last 15 years. Whether Pittsburgh wants to admit it or not, it’s a team rebuilding, and that’ll be a painful process. The goal is to make it short-term pain and not a feeling that exists for the next several seasons.

Check out the whole episode below.

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