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Kenny Pickett Relives 4th-Quarter Failure In Miami: ‘Chasing Another Big Play When I Shouldn’t Have Been’

While the Pittsburgh Steelers offense left plenty of meat on the bone last season, one area in which they did well was moving the ball, even scoring, at the ends of halves. That became particularly notable in the second half of the season as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett gained experience. But it was a bit of a rough start for him, with a particularly bad game against the Miami Dolphins.

I failed against Miami with it, but took that as a learning experience, trying to find out why we did fail”, he recently told’s Teresa Varley in an article for the team’s website. “I was chasing another big play when I shouldn’t have been. I had a lot more success down the stretch winning games in the fourth quarter and that’s what it’s all about”.

That was the fourth game of Pickett’s career and the third in which he started. It was also one game after returning from a concussion that he suffered a week earlier against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But regardless of the reason, the results speak for themselves: both of the Steelers’ final two drives ended in interceptions.

It was a one-score game that finished at the end of the fourth quarter the way it started in the third. Neither side put points on the board in the second half, ending with a 16-10 loss for the Steelers, even though Pittsburgh moved the ball. They picked up 52 yards on their penultimate drive and 62 on the last.

The Steelers were facing a 3rd and 16 on Pickett’s first interception of the fourth quarter (second for the game) after left tackle Dan Moore Jr. was flagged for a holding penalty. That was already after an illegal shift turned a 3rd and 1 into 3rd and 6. Pickett looked for Diontae Johnson but found Jevon Holland instead at the Miami 18.

Pickett was not under pressure when he threw but was looking for the sticks. Johnson sat down right in front of the line to gain, but Holland read the route and jumped it, with Pickett never noticing. If that is the throw, then it has to come out much quicker, with timing.

The second interception of the fourth quarter came with the Steelers at Miami’s 25 on 2nd and 2 with 26 seconds remaining. Johnson again was the target on the play, this time Noah Igbinoghene on the receiving end of the pass.

Pickett was under pressure initially, but then unnecessarily rolled out to his left. He left his feet as he tossed a ball looking for the end zone, but Johnson was never in a position to catch it. He was evidently expecting his receiver to do something else, but as with the previously play, this is on the quarterback, especially given the game circumstance. Live to play another down.

He did, of course, and would pick up four game-winning drives along the way—first against the New Orleans Saints, then the Indianapolis Colts, and then finally in dramatic fashion in back-to-back weeks against the Las Vegas Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens to keep the Steelers’ playoff hopes alive. Lesson learned, I’d say.

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