Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett has come under fire during his second season in the NFL. The team’s offense has been pretty brutal throughout the entire 2023 season, unable to consistently move the ball down the field.
A lot of blame can be placed on the play-calling and scheming done by the offensive coordinator Matt Canada and the performance of the team’s offensive line. But, Pickett isn’t without blame, as he has struggled to consistently put the ball where it needs to be.
However, seemingly whenever the team needs Pickett to make a play the most, he delivers. Entering Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers were 6-3 and Pickett was tied for the league lead with three fourth-quarter comebacks.
That kind of clutch gene isn’t something that every quarterback in the NFL possesses. In most cases, a player’s performance drastically changes when they are playing from ahead compared to playing from behind.
That is what led to former Steelers star defensive back, Ike Taylor, making a bold comparison between Pickett and future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady. On his ‘Bleav In Steelers’ podcast, Taylor likened the late-game heroics of Pickett to that of Brady, who shined when the lights were brightest.
“For me, Kenny is the perfect fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Taylor said. “They can say what they wanna say about what a prototypical quarterback should look like and all the traits that they need to have. Man, give me that Tom Brady trait! And I’m not saying that Kenny is even close to Tom; I’m just saying a trait, and I know with three-and-a-half to two minutes left, and the game is close, Kenny gonna close out the game. He’s gonna make that drive, and he’s gonna put some points on the board.” (H/T Heavy)
The Steelers could have certainly used some more of those heroics on Sunday afternoon. They went on the road to face their AFC North rivals the Cleveland Browns with a chance to put some distance between them in the standings.
Both teams entered the game 6-3, but with a victory already in hand, the Steelers would have essentially built a two-game lead with a season sweep. Alas, Pickett was unable to create his late-game magic, coming up short against a stout Browns defense.
The Steelers lost the game 13-10 as 74 of their 249 total yards of offense in the game came on a Jaylen Warren 74-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage in the second half. On their second to final drive, the Steelers were on the Cleveland 40 after a 12-yard completion to George Pickens.
But, an incompletion and five-yard loss by Najee Harris on the following two plays stalled the drive and any chances of producing the go-ahead score. Pickett finished the game with only 77 net passing yards, going 0-for-3 on the team’s final drive of the game in a 10-10 tie.
Taylor was certainly correct that Pickett has shown a tendency to produce with the game on the line. But, he was unable to come through in Week 11, dropping the Steelers record to 6-4 on the season.