It took a while for Kenny Pickett to get the call for his first career NFL game, but the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie made a strong first impression in a 32-25 win against the Seattle Seahawks.
Pickett threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns with three seconds remaining to cap off a five-play, 43-yard drive. Tuzar Skipper recovered a fumble to give the offense the ball after Mark Robinson strip-sacked Drew Lock.
TOUCHDOWN <a href="https://twitter.com/steelers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@STEELERS</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/kennypickett10?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kennypickett10</a>'s TD pass in the final seconds puts Pittsburgh ahead!<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SEAvsPIT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SEAvsPIT</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLNetwork</a> (check local listings)<br>📱: Stream on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/cINB23wRfG">https://t.co/cINB23wRfG</a> <a href="https://t.co/QezXd8IFcl">pic.twitter.com/QezXd8IFcl</a>
Christopher Carter @CarterCritiques
Kenny Pickett with his first 2 min drill TD drive. Looked on time and in rhythm all night. This was what you wanted to see if you’re a <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Steelers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Steelers</a> fan. The Kenny chants are ringing out.
The Steelers have had Pickett as their third-string quarterback on the depth chart during training camp. He served that role on Saturday, coming in to start the second half after Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph got their reps.
Pickett's first drive was a success, as he completed all five of his attempts for 33 yards and a touchdown pass to Jaylen Warren. He found Connor Heyward for a two-point conversion that gave the Steelers a 25-17 advantage.
Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers
First NFL TDs for <a href="https://twitter.com/Nunless2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Nunless2</a> + <a href="https://twitter.com/kennypickett10?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kennypickett10</a>‼️<br><br>📺 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SEAvsPIT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SEAvsPIT</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/KDKA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KDKA</a> | NFL+: <a href="https://t.co/C6T9f39EAk">https://t.co/C6T9f39EAk</a> <a href="https://t.co/6a6WDHuHVA">pic.twitter.com/6a6WDHuHVA</a>
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada did make things easy for Pickett on the first drive. The rookie quarterback wasn't asked to throw the ball down the field and was aided by Steven Sims' 38-yard run on a jet sweep to get the ball to Seattle's 26-yard line.
But there were also signs of what Pickett can bring to the offense. Canada had his young signal-caller running play action and getting out of the pocket to open things up.
Pickett hit his first 10 pass attempts for 61 yards and the score to Warren.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has been coy about Pickett's ability to move up the depth chart. The 24-year-old did work with the second team squad in practice earlier this month, but Tomlin told reporters not to read too much into that.
All three Steelers quarterbacks played well against a rebuilding Seahawks defense. Trubisky went 4-of-7 for 63 yards and a touchdown in two drives, while Rudolph finished 9-of-15 for 93 yards and one touchdown in three drives before halftime.
Pickett will eventually force his way into the starting lineup after being the No. 20 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft. If his performance on Saturday is any indication of what's to come, it might not take long for him to get there.
The next test for Pickett and the Steelers will be on Aug. 20 against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field.