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Kenny Pickett’s Steelers learning curve to replace Big Ben on the way

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ATLANTA – Chalk up another marker on Kenny Pickett’s rookie learning curve: A winning streak.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally managed to win back-to-back games for the first time during this rebuilding year of life after Ben Roethlisberger.

Never mind that the 19-16 victory inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium came against the low-flying Atlanta Falcons. A win still counts as a win in the NFL. And for Pickett, it is apparent that he has learned a thing or two about winning as the practice reps pile up and the game experience increased.

“Every week, I feel like I’m getting better,” Pickett said, “trying to build off the positives.”

A huge positive: Pickett played his fourth consecutive game without throwing an interception, extending his streak of passes without a pick to 120.

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On paper and in real-life against the Falcons, he made quick decisions, had a keen sense of when to use nifty footwork to scramble out of danger, threw the ball away in other cases and avoided the temptations of forcing risky throws – the ball-security makes a major statement.

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett celebrates after a victory against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

I mean, rookie quarterbacks have some of the toughest on-the-job training imaginable. As great as Peyton Manning was, he threw a career-high 28 interceptions as a rookie in 1998. Last year’s top pick overall, Trevor Lawrence, led the league with 17 picks.

Pickett, the Pitt product whom the Steelers chose as the first quarterback drafted in April (20th overall), threw eight interceptions in his first five NFL games.

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