QBs Impress as Steelers Beat Seahawks in Preseason Opener
PITTSBURGH — Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett all impressed as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback battle got its first real test in a 32-25 preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Trubisky stated the game and played in just two drives, leading the Steelers to a touchdown on his first possession by hitting a wide-open Gunner Olszewski. Trubisky also hit Olszewski for a 25-yard catch and run earlier on the drive. He finished 4 of 7 for 63 yards and also had a four-yard scramble.
Mason Rudolph took over on the Steelers’ third drive and threw an incredible touchdown pass to George Pickens in the back right of the end zone. Rudolph finished with 93 passing yards to lead the Steelers, completing 9 of 15, but also had two near turnovers. He had the ball knocked out of his hand on his first play, but recovered the fumble. Later, he threw a near-interception that was dropped by Seattle defensive back Josh Jones.
Pickett came in to start the second half and had an impressive pro debut. On his first drive, he completed all five passes for 36 yards, leading the team down the field and hitting running back Jaylen Warren for a 3-yard touchdown. Pickett connected with rookie tight end Connor Heyward for a two-point conversion.
Later, Pickett led the Steelers on a last-minute scoring drive to win the game, hitting Tyler Vaughns for a 24-yard touchdown pass with three seconds to play. He finished 13 of 15 for 95 yards and two scores.
Pickens and Olszewski were the team’s most productive receivers, each catching three passes, with Olszewski’s going for 47 yards and Pickens’ 43 yards. Starters Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth were held out of the game. Anthony Miller and Calvin Austin III missed the contest with injuries.
It was the same story at running back, where Najee Harris was held out and Benny Snell Jr. did not dress with an injury. Anthony McFarland Jr. got the starting nod and impressed, rushing even times for 56 yards to lead the team. He also worked as the first-team kickoff returner, taking the opening kick back 30 yards.
The Steelers defense did well to contain Geno Smith and the Seattle offense in the first half, yielding just three points on the first four possessions, after which most of the starters left the game.
The one questionable spot was the run defense, as Seattle combined to rush 26 times for 159 yards, a 6.1 yards per carry average.
After the Steelers jumped out to a 17-3 lead, Seattle whittled it away. Smith scored on a two-yard scramble on the final drive of the first half and Drew Lock led the Seahawks on scoring drive to start the second half and tie the game.
Pickett’s pass to Warren and two-point conversion gave Pittsburgh an eight-point lead. The Seahawks tied it up with a Lock to Deejay Dallas touchdown pass over Mark Robinson and a two-point conversion from Lock to Travis Homer over Buddy Johnson.
The Steelers’ first attempt at a go-ahead drive fell short, when Pickett was sacked on a fourth-down attempt. But Robinson sacked and stripped Lock, and Tuzar Skipper recovered to give the Steelers the ball back with 1:10 to play and set up Pickett’s final scoring drive.
The Steelers will continue their preseason with a trip to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars on Saturday, Aug. 20. That game kicks off at 7 p.m. They will report back to St. Vincent College for training camp practice on Monday afternoon.