Kenny Pickett turned heads on Monday night by leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 24-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. For the first time all year, Pickett looked like a future franchise quarterback. The potential is certainly there. The masses are taking notice, too.
Pickett’s stellar performance against the Colts earned him the highest grade (88.5) from Pro Football Focus among Steelers players. PFF also deemed Pickett as the second-best quarterback overall in Week 12, behind just Lamar Jackson (91.5). That means Pickett was ahead of Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert, all of whom had standout games in Week 12. Pickett didn’t have gaudy numbers like Lawrence, Hurts and Herbert, but it was still a strong showing. Pickett completed 20 of 28 passes (71.4%) for 174 yards with zero touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a season-high 87.5 quarterback rating. Pickett also had 32 yards rushing on six attempts, along with a spectacular throw to George Pickens in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion. The stats don’t tell the whole story, though, as there were several drops by the Steelers receivers, including one by Diontae Johnson in the end zone.
Pickett’s 88.5 PFF grade from the win over Indianapolis was the best by a rookie quarterback in 2022 and the highest by a Steelers quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger in Week 10 of the 2018 season. All in all, Pickett showed strides. By no stretch of the imagination was he flawless, as he was off-target on some passes and misdiagnosed a blitz that resulted in a sack. But he’s showing progress, and that’s all you can ask for in a rookie quarterback. Pickett’s biggest improvement has been in the interception department, as he hasn’t thrown a pick in the last three games (100 pass attempts).
Former Cleveland Brown and future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas also gave Pickett props for his Monday night outing. “If I’m a Steelers fan, I’m waking up with an ear to ear grin this morning. Not because you won the game last night, that was meaningless. No, it’s because Kenny Pickett looks like the real deal,” Thomas said on Twitter.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst shared similar comments when breaking down Pickett’s 13-yard completion to Pickens on third-and-9, which ended up being the game-winning drive. “You’ve gotta be so encouraged if you’re the Steelers. Big-time Ball KP,” Orlovsky tweeted.
Growing pains with Pickett were to be expected, but it appears that he’s on the right track to stardom, which is promising for the future of the franchise.