The Kenny Pickett era is underway. Or so it seems.
After a six-point first half produced four punts, a turnover and two field goals against the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers benched Mitchell Trubisky in favor of their rookie quarterback. He threw an interception on his first possession, but backed up the turnover with consecutive scoring drives. But the Jets rallied with two unanswered touchdowns to secure a 24-20 win.
After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin declined to name a Week 5 starter.
"I thought we needed a spark, man," Tomlin told reporters. "We didn’t do much in the first half, not enough offensively, and I thought he could provide a spark for us.
“We’ll deal with next week, next week.”
Mixed bag for Pickett includes 3 interceptions
Facing first-and-10 near midfield, Pickett looked deep downfield to Chase Claypool on a play-action pass early in the third quarter. But Claypool faced double coverage and Pickett's ball hung up in the air, allowing Jets safety Jordan Whitehead to intercept the ball off a Lamarcus Joyner deflection.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 2, 2022
He followed up the turnover with a pair of touchdown runs on back-to-back possessions as the Steelers took a 20-10 lead.
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2022
But the Jets scored the last 14 points of the game to secure the win. Pickett finished completing 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards with three interceptions, including a Hail Mary heave into the end zone that was picked off on the game's final play. His only scores came on the ground.
Pickett was the No. 20 pick in April's draft and the only quarterback selected in the first round. Head coach Mike Tomlin named Trubisky Pittsburgh's starter after a preseason battle at quarterback, but the Steelers offense was stagnant in a 1-2 start.
Pittsburgh averaged 18 points in its first three games as Trubisky totaled two touchdowns and an interception while averaging 189.7 passing yards per game. He completed 7-of-13 passes for 84 yards with an interception on Sunday before Tomlin made the switch to Pickett.
Pickett impressed in the preseason, completing 80.6% of his passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Some thought he would win the job over Trubisky, who was a known commodity in his sixth NFL season, having failed to live up to the expectations that made him the No. 2 draft pick in 2017. Pickett taking over at some point this season seemed inevitable. On Sunday, Tomlin decided that it was time.