PITTSBURGH — Fourth quarter Kenny did it again, and the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback got some help from a much-needed direction.
Pickett hit wide receiver Dionate Johnson for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:06 to play to give the Steelers the lead for good in a 20-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Pickett earned his third fourth-quarter game-winning drive, and the defense sealed it with a Kwon Alexander interception in the end zone with six seconds left.
The Steelers offense broke a significant streak on the game’s opening drive. The Steelers took the ball after winning the opening coin toss and drove 83 yards in 10 plays, with Najee Harris rumbling home for a 10-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
It the first time the Steelers had scored on the opening drive of the game all season, and the first time they scored a first-drive touchdown since Dec. 18, 2022 against the Carolina Panthers.
But the hot start on offense didn’t last. After scoring on the first drive, the Steelers offense went three plays and out on each of its next two drives, while Kenny Pickett struggled with accuracy. He completed only five of his first 11 passes before settling in somewhat later.
While the Steelers offense was scuffling, the Steelers defense has a penalty-filled possession that led to the first of three Nick Folk field goals.
Then the Titans engineered an 11-play drive that went 73 yards and wrapped with Derrick Henry bowling into the end zone from 2 yards out. The teams traded second-quarter field goals.
Early in the third quarter, the Steelers offense went on another long jaunt, but a Pickett pass to George Pickens in the corner of the end zone was ruled just out of bounds, and after traveling 70 yards, they were forced to settle for a short Chris Boswell field goal to tie the game at 13-13.
The Steelers defense had largely kept Henry bottled up all game, but he got loose in the third quarter for a long screen pass to set up another Folk kick and give the Titans the lead back.
That set up the Steelers’ late-game heroics. It was not a statistically dominant game for the second-year starting quarterback, who was limited in the week of practice entering the game with a rib injury. Pickett finished 19 of 30 for 190 yards, the one touchdown and an 88.2 passer rating.
The touchdown pass to Johnson was his first since 2021.
The rushing game powered the Steelers attack most of the evening, with Harris rushing 16 times for 69 yards and the score, and Jaylen Warren adding 11 carries for 87 yards.
The Steelers improved to 5-3 and moved into sole possession of second place in the AFC North. They will host the Green Bay Packers next Sunday.