Steelers vs. Seahawks takeaways: Kenny Pickett dazzles in debut, leads game-winning TD drive in final seconds
Pittsburgh fans got a wild first look at the quarterback battle
Who says preseason games can't be exciting? With just seconds left in regulation, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to score the go-ahead touchdown to beat the Seahawks in their preseason opener, 32-25.
While this game was largely viewed for the quarterback battles for both clubs, folks that stayed around were treated to a wild finish, as Pittsburgh essentially rose from the dead thanks to a clutch play by the defense. After linebacker Mark Robinson strip-sacked Drew Lock, rookie Kenny Pickett flashed his first-round potential and led the Steelers on a game-winning touchdown drive that sent Pittsburgh into a frenzy.
As we mentioned, this game was primarily about the quarterbacks on both sides. With that in mind, we dove into how each signal-caller played Saturday night in this exhibition along with detailing Pittsburgh's comeback, which you can read in our takeaways below.
Examining the Steelers' QB battle
All three of Pittsburgh's top quarterbacks competing for the Week1 job played at a high level. Each was able to lead the offense on touchdown drives and not really make many mistakes. Mitchell Trubisky got the start and didn't do anything that should take him out of the lead for the job to begin the year. He led the Steelers on a 90-yard touchdown drive in his opening series, which culminated in a touchdown pass to Gunner Olszewski.
What was arguably most impressive about that drive was the overall pace of the Steelers offense, nearly traveling the length of the field in just under three minutes. That does highlight Trubisky's overall grasp of Matt Canada's offense, which is encouraging. The former Bear finished his day completing 4 of 7 for 63 yards and a touchdown while adding four yards on the ground.
Trubisky gave way to Mason Rudolph after two series, and he carried the baton well for the rest of the first half. That said, things did start out of a bit shaky as he nearly turned the ball over with a fumble. On the very next play, however, he dropped back to pass and then delivered a beautiful ball to rookie George Pickens for a touchdown. For the game, Rudolph was 9 of 15 for 93 yards and a touchdown.
To begin the second half, Kenny Pickett rolled in to thunderous applause form those at Acrisure Stadium. He rewarded them with a stellar seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive where he completed all five of his passes, including a three-yard touchdown to Jaylen Warren.
After that hot start, however, Pickett and the Steelers offense hit a bit of a lull as they punted on back-to-back drives that netted just 13 yards of total offense. After initially failing to convert on a fourth-and-1 attempt inside of two minutes, Pickett was given another chance at a game-winning drive and didn't hesitate to pull through, bringing the offense down the field and -- with mere seconds left in regulation -- connecting with Tyler Vaughns for the go-ahead touchdown.
Pickett finished 13 of 15 for 95 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for an additional 16 yards.
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Examining Seahawks' QB battle
Seattle's splits were pretty cut-and-dry with Geno Smith and Drew Lock. The former got the start and played the entire first half, while the latter played the rest of the way. Smith didn't get off to a particularly strong start, as the Seahawks managed just three points over their first four drives while the Steelers piled up 17 points. The veteran was able to end on a high note, however, as he led Seattle on a two-minute drill just prior to halftime to put them within striking distance.
Smith was 3 of 5 on the drive for 37 yards. He added nine yards on the ground, including a two-yard rushing touchdown. On the night, he completed 66.7% of his throws for 101 yards to go along with those rushing totals.
To begin the second half, Lock was pretty sharp and led the Seahawks on a 73-yard touchdown drive to knot the game at 17. His first pass of the night was a 39-yard gain to Bo Melton, which essentially flipped the field for Seattle, and he later found Dareke Young for the score. Later, he evened the game again at 25 after connecting with DeeJay Dallas on a 17-yard touchdown during which the veteran back was able to break a tackle and leap towards the end zone.
The well did run dry for Lock as the game progressed, as the offense punted on its next possession. He was later stripped on his last play of the game, which opened the door for Pittsburgh to pull away with the win. Lock's night ended with him completing 11 of his 15 throws for 102 yards, two touchdowns and that dreaded fumble.
For a minute there, it looked like Pickett's Cinderella moment was going to fall just short. Coming out of the two-minute warning, it looked like the stage was setting up for Pittsburgh to have a chance to kill clock and either score a game-winning touchdown or kick a game-winning field goal. However, Pickett was sacked on a fourth-and-1 try from the Seattle 45-yard line, which flipped the script for Drew Lock to possibly be the preseason hero. That storyline, however, lasted just one play as Lock was sacked, fumbled the football, and the Steelers defense recovered to give the ball back to the offense to go win it.
With new life, Pickett and the Steelers offense traveled 43 yards to the end zone on five plays to jump out to the lead with three seconds left and win the game.
Play of the game
is flying through the roof. The Steelers' second-round pick has impressed essentially upon arrival in Pittsburgh and has made a number of highlight plays throughout training camp. Well, that continued Saturday night in his first taste of preseason action.
Pickens hauled in a remarkable touchdown grab on a well-thrown ball by Mason Rudolph. On a third-and-13 attempt from the Seattle 26-yard line, Rudolph lofted a pass towards the back-right pylon of the end zone. After Pickens got a step on his defender, he secured the over-the-shoulder catch and -- most notably -- kept both feet in bounds.
While it's still early, it looks like Pittsburgh may have found another star receiver at the draft.
From here, the Steelers will head out on the road for the only time this preseason when they square up with the Jacksonville Jaguars next Saturday. Meanwhile, the Seahawks will head home to Lumen Field and await the Chicago Bears. These two NFC squads will open up Week 2 of the preseason on Thursday.
Well, that's quite the start for Kenny Pickett. He completed all five of his passes, including a touchdown pass to Jaylen Warren.
Kenny Pickett is met with thunderous applause as he takes the field.