Plays of the Year: Pickens beats Hilton for 43-yard big play

Steel City Underground presents “Plays of the Year” featuring the top runs, catches, hits and everything else in-between from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 season.

On the road in Week 12, playing in their first game of the 2023 NFL regular season after the release of Matt Canada from his coaching duties, the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC North rivalry game that ended a long streak for the offense. With Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan as the new offensive coordinator and signal-caller duo, the Steelers took some deep shots down the field and produced over 400 yards of offense for the first time in over four seasons. Part of that chunk of yardage came on a big 43-yard pass play.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett and receiver George Pickens had been struggling under Canada to connect on the field. Some of that was due to scheme, but there was a growing sense of disconnect due to the drill-down on the run-first, run-often mindset and accuracy issues.

In the fourth quarter of the game, the Steelers offense had a chance to put Bengals in the position of needing two scores to win the game.

On 3rd & 8 on their own 37-yard line (10:01 mark), Pickett took the snap from shotgun with the backfield emptied out. Pickens streaked down the left sideline, outpacing Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton as Pickett released the ball. Pickens was able to make a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch before he was forced out of bounds at the Cincinnati 20-yard line.

The play was the catalyst for two Chris Boswell field goals and a Steelers defensive stand that sealed the win, 16-10. The Bengals’ attempted onside kick to attempt a comeback in the final two minutes and for seconds of the game was thwarted when Pickens recovered the kick to allow Pittsburgh to kneel in victory formation and move back into second place in the AFC North divisional race with the victory.

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