Kenny Pickett And George Pickens Become Fourth Rookie Duo In Super Bowl Era To Connect For Game-Winning Touchdown

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 draft class looks promising. The team selected Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett with their first round pick, and Georgia receiver George Pickens with their second, both of whom are making an immediate impact.

In their most recent game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Pickett and Pickens connected for a game-winning touchdown in an unforgettable victory. According to NFL GameDay, this was the fourth time in the Super Bowl era that a rookie quarterback had a game-winning touchdown to a rookie receiver.

After the game-winning touchdown, Pickett and Pickens joined three other rookie duos from NFL history. The most recent one was Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Josh Rosen to receiver Christian Kirk against the San Francisco 49ers in 2018. Much like the Steelers, this was a case of the team’s first round rookie quarterback connecting with their second round rookie receiver. While Rosen’s career did not pan out, he did sweep the 49ers his rookie season. On the other hand, Kirk played out his rookie contract with the Cardinals, but was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars this past offseason.

Before 2018, the most recent rookie-to-rookie game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes was Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford’s walk-off touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew against the Steelers’ AFC North rival Cleveland Browns. Notably, Pettigrew was a tight end, and it is unclear whether he counts as part of this NFL GameDay pass. Stafford went onto have an 11-year career with Detroit, and recently won the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams. Meanwhile, Pettigrew, who was the Lions’ other first round pick in 2009, played for the team until his 2016 retirement. In doing so, he was their top tight end, and finished his career with 301 catches for 2,965 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The third rookie-to-rookie connection was all the way back in 1999, as Cleveland Browns’ first overall pick rookie quarterback Tim Couch connected with second-round receiver Kevin Johnson to win the game. This was a walk-off hail mary pass, and a highlight of Couch’s rookie season. Couch was the Browns’ first ever selection after returning as an expansion team in 1999 that ensued the original team’s relocation to Baltimore in 1996. While he is generally regarded as a bust, he did have a commendable rookie season, as he made the NFL All-Rookie Team. On the other hand, Johnson had a solid career, catching 384 passes for 4595 yards and 25 touchdowns in a seven-year career.

From the start of Pickett’s regular season, Pickens was clearly his favorite target. Indeed, the two have chemistry that dates back to rookie minicamp in May, and had gone through the same draft process together before that. Pickett’s trust in Pickens with the game on the line speaks volumes, and the duo will likely play together for their rookie contracts, and hopefully years to come after that.

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