Steelers Throwback Thursday: Kenny Pickett’s preseason debut

Steel City Underground takes fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times and players in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Steelers Throwback Thursday” series.

A fervor had struck the newly rechristened Acrisure Stadium on August 13th, 2022. That’s because Steelers fans flocked in droves to the Steel City to witness their local favorite get a shot at playing in the pros.

Drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Kenny Pickett would practice and play during his college career in the same venues that the Steelers use. Now fans were excited to see Pickett make the transition from playing with the University of Pittsburgh Panthers over to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

However, those fans who kept chanting “Kenny” throughout the first half of the game would have to wait until the third quarter before they’d get to see their guy in action. At the time Pickett was battling with Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph for the team’s starting quarterback spot.

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Both Trubisky and Rudolph saw snaps in the first two quarters before Pickett entered the game following a Seahawks touchdown which tied the game 17-all with 10:37 remaining in the third quarter: the Steelers first drive of the second half. When Pickett took the field in the third quarter, the crowd turned the atmosphere of a preseason game into a Super Bowl contending playoff bout, as the local kid gave the fans everything they could ever want.

The first Pickett drive finished with five-straight completions, the last of which ended in a three-yard Jaylen Warren catch and run for a touchdown.

With both teams tied, 25-25, Pickett was asked to put running back Master Teague to work and ran a two-minute drill that included pass attempts to Christian Blake. On fourth-and-one, however, Pickett was grabbed by Boye Mafe which resulted in the ball being turned over on downs.

On the very next play, rookie linebacker Mark Robinson dumped Drew Lock, forcing a fumble that teammate Tuzar Skipper was able to recover at the Seahawks’ 43-yard line with just 1:10 left on the game clock.

Now it was time to see what Matt Canada‘s offense, led by the rookie Pickett, could do with against the giving the live NFL team odds with little time remaining.

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Driving the Steelers offense 43 yards in five plays, Pickett, in the shotgun formation, threw a pass to Tyler Vaughns on an out pattern that might have been a short gain had Vaughns not made Josh Valentine-Turner miss the tackle. There was nothing but an open field for Vaughns after that and he sprinted to the end zone and dived over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown. The home crowd and Steelers teammates went wild as they celebrated the victory.

Vaughns’ touchdown came with just three seconds left on the game clock. Nick Sciba was able to tack on the extra point for a 32-25 Steelers victory that saw Pickett instantly embrace the excitement of the fans, stay cool under pressure, and finish the game with a highlight.

Pickett finished his first in-game outing with the Steelers by completing 15-of-13 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 132.6.

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