Make no mistake about it: the offense for the Pittsburgh Steelers was relatively poor once again on Sunday at Highmark Stadium against the Buffalo Bills in a 38-3 loss.
Pittsburgh couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t catch the ball consistently, and most importantly, couldn’t finish drives, resulting in just three points on the afternoon.
However, rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, making his first career start for the black and gold, had a relatively strong performance overall, throwing for 327 yards — many of them in garbage time – on 34-of-52 completions, adding one interception. The numbers look decent overall, and had head coach Mike Tomlin a bit pleased with his rookie’s performance on a big stage in a hostile environment.
Still, the Steelers lost and need to be better, which Tomlin pointed out Sunday. He couldn’t hide his pleasure with Pickett’s performance though, stating to reporters Tuesday that he liked a lot of what Pickett did in his first career start, according to video via the Steelers official YouTube page.
“You know, I liked a lot of what he did, but we lost and lost definitively and so, I don’t know that we are seeking comfort in that regard,” Tomlin stated to reporters Tuesday. “I know that you guys have a lot of questions regarding his growth and development. I thought he was competitive. I thought he communicated well. I thought he made good and timely decisions. Nothing disappointing in terms of what we saw from him. We just need more of it. We gotta get better. We have to get collectively better and he’s a component of that.”
For the most part, Pickett was fine in his first career start. He did have the mistake of throwing an interception, but he was very competitive to the bitter end, even igniting a shoving match with defensive end Shaq Lawson after Lawson hit Pickett low on a play that went un-flagged, one that Pickett too issue with and stood up for himself as his fellow linemen arrived on the spot.
Communication, timely decisions, competitive fire…those are all expectations of Pickett, considering who he was coming out of Pittsburgh. None of that was a surprise to Tomlin or the rest of the coaching staff.
“Like I’ve mentioned repeatedly, when asked about Kenny, I think since the time we stepped in the first preseason stadium, I’ve seen nothing but a rapid ascend in his capabilities, his professionalism, his mindset, what he brings to us,” Tomlin added Tuesday. “And I just think it’s reasonable to expect that to continue regardless of how rough the waters are.”