Steelers QB report card: Kenny Pickett shows up in primetime

Pittsburgh Steelers, Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers, Kenny Pickett / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers offense finally showed some life for the first time all season in Week 3, coming away with a 23-18 win in Las Vegas. Kenny Pickett continued his strong showings in prime time to start his career: He is now 5-1 in his six prime time starts. Matt Canada called a still flawed but better game as well, at least giving the offense a chance to make some plays.

Pickett even threw two touchdown passes, something a Steelers quarterback hadn’t done in the regular season since Week 14 of the 2021 season. How did he make it happen, and is it a sign of things to come?

Kenny Pickett’s poise finally returned against the Raiders

The most concerning part of Kenny Pickett’s season through two games was his lack of poise and accuracy. The offensive line has been a sieve to start the year, so his frantic pocket movement can be excused to a point. Still, Pickett was fantastic when pressured last year. He is no stranger to performing even when the pass protection isn’t perfect.

His lack of faith in his protection started speeding up his decision-making, which led to his throws coming out of rhythm and often behind his receivers. For the most part, those issues began to fade against the Raiders.

After going three and out twice to start the game and starting 0-3 on his passes, Pickett faced third and seven on his own 28. He stayed in the pocket and lofted a perfect rainbow ball right into the waiting arms of speedster Calvin Austin for a 72-yard touchdown. The pass protection nearly allowed the Raiders' pass rush to get home before he could get the ball out, but he had just enough time to make the throw.

That was the biggest play of the game by far, but throughout the night Pickett continued to show that he had settled down after a rocky start. On the next drive, he hung tough in the pocket and fired a strike to George Pickens to convert on third and eight. He found Pickens again later on a drag route for another conversion on third down.

Believe it or not, even Matt Canada helped Pickett out by getting more play-action calls into the mix. Pickett’s second touchdown pass came off a play fake, giving Pat Freiermuth plenty of open space for the score. More of that, please. Overall, it was an encouraging sign against admittedly mediocre competition. Let’s see if Kenny and the offense can keep things rolling against an improved Texans team next week.

Grade: B

Next. Kenny Pickett sets 3 massive career milestones in Steelers win vs. Raiders. Kenny Pickett sets 3 massive career milestones in Steelers win vs. Raiders. dark