Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett showed flashes of progress in Sunday’s 37-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Pickett had a stellar first half Sunday and improved his pocket awareness, stepping up through pressure several times to make plays. Pittsburgh went on to score 30 points for the first time this season, and Pickett had his second consecutive game without a turnover.
“You know he’s getting better in all areas, just the same way that George Pickens is getting better,” coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “I’m not going to comb through it every week, it’s moving in the direction that we’d like it to. Sure, could it move faster? Absolutely, I don’t think anybody is patient, including Kenny. This is not a patient man’s business. You work while you wait. And that’s what he, and we, are doing, but he’s doing a nice job in general.”
Tomlin noted that Pickett’s growth in stepping up in the pocket instead of bailing backward has been very “significant” in the Steelers’ offense staying on track.
After four consecutive scoring drives to close the half, however, the Steelers’ offense got stuck in the mud in the third quarter. Pittsburgh went 3-and-out three times to open the third frame and had a 3-and-field goal following a T.J. Watt interception.
The lull allowed the Bengals to retake a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Pickett finished 25-of-42 passing for 265 yards and a TD while taking two sacks on the afternoon. The rookie dropped several dimes to Pickens down the field and showed better command of the offense. However, he still missed a few throws, particularly on the move.
Sitting at 3-7, Pickett’s development for the rest of the season will be critical for the Steelers heading into 2023.
Tomlin was asked Tuesday if he believes the club as a whole should be further along at this point in the season.
“I don’t, I’m not in any way frustrated by its development or lack thereof, I just know as a coach, and particularly as a coach who’s been doing it for a while, that it’s continual,” he said.
In his 16th season, Tomlin has famously never had a losing campaign. Pittsburgh has a load of work to do to extend that streak down the stretch. But there are winnable games on the docket, with two matchups against the Ravens representing their only games against teams currently with a winning record in the final seven tilts.
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