The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in the final moments by a score of 24-20. The offense struggled in the first half, promoting Mike Tomlin to make the move to bench Mitch Trubisky in the second half in favor of rookie QB Kenny Pickett, who managed to come in and give the offense a spark to the tune of two rushing touchdowns. Tomlin said just as much when asked what prompted him to go with Pickett over Trubisky to start the second half of play.
“I just thought we needed a spark, man,” Tomlin said to the media in the post-game press conference which aired live on the team’s YouTube channel. “We didn’t do much in the first half. Not enough offensively and I thought he could provide a spark for us.”
Pickett came into the game to start the third quarter and threw an interception on his first NFL pass that was intended for Chase Claypool but was tipped into the air. However, the next two drives Pittsburgh managed to get into the end zone thanks to Pickett calling his own number near the goal line with two TD runs.
Still, while Pickett completed 10-of-13 pass attempts, his three incompletions were all INTs. Two were batted up into the air and picked off by a defender while the last one came on a final heave to the end zone at the end of the game as time expired.
There is no denying that Pickett did provide a spark to an offense that had under 60 passing yards at the half, but Tomlin isn’t ready to name him the starter for next week, at least at this point in time.
“I’m not going to talk extended as we sit here,” Tomlin said regarding next week. “We did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win this game and we’d do it again. But I like to just keep it where we are in terms of what transpired here today. We’ll deal with next week next week.”
All-in-all, it wasn’t a great showing for Pickett given the turnovers, but a couple of those weren’t necessarily his fault as the receiver made a poor play on the football or the defender knocked the ball up into the air. He did show some good things as a passer, completing nearly 77% of his passes along with using his legs to extend plays and pick up two scores on the ground. Still, he has plenty to learn in terms of forcing passes into coverage and playing a full game as the starting QB, which won’t be decided until a later date.
“I thought he did some good things,” Tomlin said on Pickett. “I thought, you know, there was some energy there. We scored some touchdowns, but obviously, we also turned the ball over.”