Steelers' Tomlin on Kenny Pickett Replacing Mitchell Trubisky: 'We Needed a Spark'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 2, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 02: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on in the third quarter against the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium on October 02, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did what he could to give his team some much-needed energy.

"I thought we needed a spark," Tomlin told reporters when discussing why he turned to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett in the second half of Sunday's 24-20 loss to the New York Jets. "... We thought he could provide a spark for us."

Tomlin also didn't confirm whether Pickett will remain the starter.

Pittsburgh did need a spark, as it managed just six points in the first half with Mitchell Trubisky under center.

Pickett temporarily provided one with two touchdown runs, which gave the Steelers a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter. Yet they were unable to hold the lead with Zach Wilson's touchdown pass to Corey Davis and Breece Hall's touchdown run in crunch time proving the difference in the comeback win for the Jets.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Pickett was part of the problem.

He threw three interceptions in the loss, the second of which came in New York territory while protecting a three-point lead. The Jets parlayed that interception into the game-winning touchdown on the ensuing possession, and Pickett's final pick came on a Hail Mary on the last play.

For his part, Trubisky said he will focus on being a good teammate even though he is "disappointed" he was benched during the loss:

Chris Adamski @C_AdamskiTrib

Mitch Trubisky was disappointed to be benched <a href="https://t.co/fHUpFgAAxy">pic.twitter.com/fHUpFgAAxy</a>

Frankly, it's not as if Pickett was dominant enough to cement himself as the starter. The turnovers were costly, and the touchdown runs both came around the goal line and weren't exactly long scrambles that proved his running ability.

Things don't get much easier for the Steelers either with games against the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles next on the schedule.

Whether Tomlin wants to move forward into the teeth of that schedule with a rookie or not remains to be seen, but he was simply looking for a spark Sunday.