Game-Winning Drive One That ‘We All Expect’ According To Steelers OC Matt Canada

Trailing 10-6 with 2:55 to go on Christmas Eve against the Las Vegas Raiders at Acrisure Stadium in frigid temperatures, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed a bit of a Christmas miracle.

Ask and you shall receive, apparently.

Kenny Pickett played Santa Claus for the Steelers on the final drive, completing 7-of-9 passes for 75 yards while adding a crucial 1-yard quarterback sneak to move the chains, eventually firing a 14-yard strike to fellow rookie George Pickens for the eventual game-winning touchdown pass on a night that was a “grow up night” for the Steelers’ young offense.

While the drive was rather thrilling overall as the Steelers shook off the struggles that they had offensively in the first three-and-a-half quarters, and showed a lot of growth from Pickett, second-year running back Najee Harris, second-year tight end Pat Freiermuth and Pickens, it’s a drive that the Steelers have expected all season long, regardless of situation or the magnitude of the game, at least according to second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Speaking with the media Thursday during his weekly media session, Canada said that while it was a great drive overall and helped win the game, it is something that the team expects and needed to happen overall, according to the official transcript provided by the team.

“I think there were tough conditions and all those things. We kept pushing and kept being close, we got the ball. We had some
opportunities across the 50 that we didn’t score in, right? We had some chances where we didn’t make some plays throughout
the game, for multiple reasons,” Canada stated, according to the official transcript. “But the last drive of the game was obviously two-minute drill that you’ve got to do, and you’ve got to execute it. Kenny obviously is the quarterback, to your question, and did a good job. But we had a lot of guys that did a nice job taking what was there.

“Naj[ee Harris] had a couple of good catches in that drive that got us where we needed to be, a big one to Pat [Freiermuth], and then obviously, the touchdown to George [Pickens]. So, everybody did a nice job,” Canada added. “All those guys are growing and improving. You’ve got two guys that are second-year players and two guys that are first-year players. So, it was a drive, but it’s a drive that we all expect, and we needed to have happen, but certainly happy that it did.”

While it’s the type of drive that should be expected of an NFL offense, it’s one that rarely happens throughout a game under Canada’s coaching. That might be a bit of an indictment on Canada overall, who is rather conservative and doesn’t want to take many chances with play calling until the time is of the essence, much like it was on the final drive.

When it comes to Pickett overall, those types of drives have become common with him. In 10 starts in the NFL, Pickett already has three game-winning drives to his name, with those drives occurring against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12, and obviously against the Raiders.

Things seem to really click when the Steelers go uptempo and let Pickett play in rhythm. If it’s the type of drive that is expected, then Canada needs to start letting Pickett play like that from the beginning — fast and loose like the game is on the line from the start.

With that type of game-winning drive in that gnvieroent with those conditions and the magnitude of that matchup against the Raiders, there should be some confidence moving forward for the Steelers’ young offense. Canada attempted to downplay it some thought on Thursday, stating he doesn’t know if the group is different or what it did for confidence, according to the transcript.

“Oh, I don’t know. I mean, yeah, I think anytime you have success like that, it’s good, right?” Canada stated to reporters, according to the transcript. “You have—how many two-minute drills have we done out here? We practice it a lot but winning a two-minute drill out here is way different than winning it in a game under the lights on Christmas Eve and all those things. So, yeah, that adds come confidence, I think. But you’re only as good as the next one.”

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