PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett isn’t going to blow opponents away with arm power.
Or pace. Or stature. Or flawless decision-making. Or a fast launch.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback’s best power could also be his means to be larger than the sum of his elements, a trait that was on full show throughout Monday night time’s 24-17 victory over Indianapolis.
Pickett is on the level in his nascent profession the place he doesn’t must be robust for the Steelers (4-7) to succeed, simply robust sufficient. He doesn’t must be quick, simply quick sufficient. Not fast, simply fast sufficient.
Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t count on Pickett to morph into the “Kenny Good” persona he cultivated throughout his school days on the opposite facet of the constructing the Steelers share with the College of Pittsburgh.
All Tomlin desires out of Pickett in 2022 is progress.
Pickett offered it in a sturdy if not spectacular efficiency whereas orchestrating his first NFL fourth-quarter comeback.
Certain, Pittsburgh solely trailed by a degree when the offense took over 16 seconds into the ultimate body.
But in a season by which the Steelers have had a unstable relationship with success, what occurred over the subsequent 11 performs provided a glimpse of the Pickett the Steelers hope he can turn out to be regularly.
There have been no massive performs, only a collection of little ones, specifically a third-down laser to George Pickens on a crossing route, a move Pickett made regardless of getting hit excessive by Colts linebacker E.J. Velocity.
Pickett additionally satisfied offensive coordinator Matt Canada to name the operating play that Benny Snell transformed right into a 2-yard landing and he purchased sufficient time along with his legs on the 2-point conversion to search out Pickens within the again nook of the tip zone to push Pittsburgh’s benefit to seven.
It was sufficient to breathe some much-needed life right into a season that threatened to spin uncontrolled, not less than for now.
“Proper now we’re a four-win crew proper now,” mentioned Pickett, who accomplished 20 of 28 for 174 yards. “We now have to personal that and chip away and get again to successful, and this undoubtedly was a begin.”
One Pittsburgh hopes it may possibly construct on down the stretch. The playoffs are an extended shot at greatest for a crew that hasn’t received consecutive video games all season.
Whereas the Steelers are trying to nonetheless deal with the current, the fact is 2023 and past started the second Tomlin handed Pickett the keys at halftime of what turned a Week 4 loss to the New York Jets.
Pickett knew it was going to be a curler coaster.
But there are indicators issues are beginning to easy out. He hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight begins after tossing eight throughout in his first 5 appearances.
He acquired extensive receiver Diontae Johnson concerned greater than he had in latest weeks and he displayed the type of tenacity that’s exhausting to measure, however readily obvious each time the ball is in his fingers.
For now, it’s sufficient.
“We’re all believing in what we’re doing and exhibiting up on daily basis to work, and each man in that locker room desires to win, and we’re doing the whole lot it takes to go on the market and win and leaving all of it on the market,” Pickett mentioned. “I feel in case you have that, you bought a shot.”
The offensive line continues to point out an uptick within the run recreation. The Steelers have gone over 100 yards speeding six occasions in 12 video games, together with 4 straight.
That type of stability is taking a number of the strain off Pickett to try to do the whole lot. It additionally chews up the clock and retains the protection off the sector.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The halftime ritual. For a second straight week, the Steelers took the lead into the break solely to return out flat to begin the third quarter. It value them dearly in a loss to Cincinnati on Nov. 20 and practically got here again to chew them once more on Monday night time when the Colts — who have been completely outclassed within the first half — got here alive and seized the momentum whereas briefly erasing a 13-point deficit.
Snell and Anthony McFarland noticed their locations on the depth chart behind starter Najee Harris usurped by undrafted rookie free agent Jaylen Warren throughout coaching camp.
With Warren sitting out due to an harm and with Harris unavailable within the second half, the duo did a superb job preserving the chains transferring, combining for 92 yards on 18 carries, with Snell scoring his first landing since Dec. 21, 2021.
Particular groups coach Danny Smith would possibly wish to blow up the kickoff protection unit and begin over after Indianapolis practically flipped the sport after the Colts averaged a staggering 45 yards per return. Poor lane self-discipline and even worse tackling are responsible, notably on the 89-yard dash by Dallis Flowers to begin the second half that snapped the Colts out of a first-half malaise. Whereas they have been lacking injured particular groups aces Rob Spillane and Miles Boykin, the drop-off shouldn’t have been so dramatic.
Harris injured his stomach late within the first half and his standing for this week is unsure.
19-3 — Tomlin’s document in Monday night time video games.
Attempt to string back-to-back wins collectively for the primary time since January once they go to Atlanta subsequent Sunday. The Steelers have dominated the collection via the years and are 14-2-1 all time in opposition to the Falcons.