PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens went off for the biggest day for a Steelers wide receiver in six years against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday — and then sent a message to those that have been critical of him in a whirlwind week.
Pickens caught four passes for 195 yards and two long touchdowns in the first three quarters of his team’s must-win Week 16 home game against the Bengals.
Pickens caught a short pass from Mason Rudolph on the second offensive play of the game for the Steelers and took off for an 86-yard touchdown. On the final drive of the first half, he made an incredible catch for a 44-yard gain that took the Steelers into field goal range.
After the Bengals scored on the first play of the second half coming out of the break with a long touchdown to Tee Higgins, Rudolph and Pickens answered three plays later with a 66-yard strike down the left side line to put the Steelers up, 31-8.
The 195 yards is a new career high for Pickens, as is the two touchdowns. He is the first Steelers receiver to gain at least 195 yards in a game since Antonio Brown had 213 back into n Dec. 10, 2017 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Pickens came into the game under fire for his actions in the team’s Week 15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and his comments to the media this week. Pickens did not block for teammate Jaylen Warren on a run near the goal line in the first quarter against the Colts.
On Tuesday, he said that he would not do it differently if given another chance, and said that he chose not to block for Warren because he was afraid to be injured.
Those comments set off a firestorm that continued through most of the week. Head coach Mike Tomlin had to take the unusual step of addressing the media mid-week to quiet the uproar, but Tomlin took flak for refusing to bench Pickens.
“He’s got talents. We want to utilize them. He’s very much in growth and development,” Tomlin said. “It will continue to require our attention. I’m just acknowledging it’s a process and our posture based on present circumstances won’t change.”
After his second touchdown on Saturday, Pickens caught the attention of a television camera and made it clear that he had heard the noise surrounding his rocky week, and that he isn’t listening.
— NFL (@NFL) December 23, 2023