The dawn of a new era could be upon the Pittsburgh Steelers. At halftime of their Week 4 loss to the New York Jets, head coach Mike Tomlin was looking to give the team a spark in the second half. So, he made a change that people have been waiting for but didn’t expect to see for a few weeks.
Tomlin made a change at the quarterback position, as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett replaced starter Mitchell Trubisky. Fans had previously chanted Pickett’s name but Tomlin was steadfast in his stance that Trubisky would be under center. That may no longer be the case as Trubisky was benched after going 7-of-13 for 84 yards and an interception.
Pickett provided the spark that the Steelers were hoping that he would. On his first drive, he converted a fourth-and-1 with a quarterback sneak up the middle. That fired the crowd up, but his first attempted pass was an ill-advised one.
Pickett took a deep shot, something Trubisky had been begged to do more of, to Chase Claypool. Had the ball been placed outside of the numbers, Claypool would have had a chance to make a big play. Instead, poor ball placement led to a deflection and interception by Jordan Whitehead.
Pickett would redeem himself on the next two drives. He would finish off a short drive after a Minkah Fitzpatrick interception with a rushing touchdown. On his next drive, he once again finished things off with another rushing score.
Unfortunately for Pickett, the come-from-behind attempt was derailed but his interceptions. He threw an ill-advised pass under pressure targeting tight end Pat Freiermuth that went off of his hands and was picked off by Michael Carter. A heave on the final of the game was intercepted by Lamarcus Joyner.
That made Pickett’s final stat line in his first real NFL action 10-of-13 for 120 yards with three interceptions. While far from a perfect debut, Pickett made some history in the game. Because of the interceptions, zero of Pickett’s 13 pass attempts hit the ground. That is the most pass attempts in a game without a single one hitting the ground in NFL history.
While having his name in the record books is quite an accomplishment for a debut, Pickett would assuredly trade that record for a win. Had Carter not caught the deflection off of Freiermuth’s hands, the Steelers could have kept driving, taking more time off the board and trying to add to their lead.