Pittsburgh Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II spoke to a few select reporters Thursday afternoon, talking about several key discussion points involving the retention of OC Matt Canada for another season, the possibility of playing international games, and his positive outlook on how the team finished 7-2 down in the second half of the season, avoiding HC Mike Tomlin’s first losing season while nearly sneaking into the playoff hunt.
Rooney was also asked about QB Kenny Pickett and his progression from the beginning of the season when he came in at halftime in Week 4 against the New York Jets to Pittsburgh’s final game against the Cleveland Browns to close out the 2022 regular season. Rooney mentioned that he is pleased with Pickett’s noticeable growth on the field throughout the season particularly when the game was tight.
Here’s what he said about Pickett to the media as tweeted out by The Trib’s Joe Rutter.
“That means a lot, being able to function like that in pressure situations, when the game is on the line, the season is on the line, really. It’s good to see,” Rooney told Rutter.
Pittsburgh has had a knack of playing in close games under Mike Tomlin, playing in the most one-possession games since Tomlin was named the coach back in 2007. However, Pittsburgh has the second-highest win percentage (60%) in these type of games during that timeframe, speaking to Tomlin’s mentality of doing whatever is necessary to win football games.
That exactly what Kenny Pickett did, leading back-to-back game winning drives in the fourth quarter against the Raiders and Ravens to keep Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes alive and Mike Tomlin’s non-losing season streak intact. All-in-all, Pickett led three fourth quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives in 13 games played (12 starts) during his rookie season, showing glimpses of what Pittsburgh once had in former QB Ben Roethlisberger with some late game magic when the team needed it most.
Pickett now enters his first full offseason, being able to take a moment to breathe after a turbulent 2022 season, but then get back to work at improving his game for 2023. Art Rooney II appears to be pleased with what Pickett has shown us thus far as a rookie, and now we wait with eager anticipation to see how he follows that up in 2023.