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Ben Roethlisberger Admits He ‘Severely Underestimated’ Kenny Pickett

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Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Kenny Pickett has raised many eyebrows over the past two weeks with his gutsy game-winning drives. In fact, he’s even gone well over the expectations of his predecessor, as Ben Roethlisberger admitted on his Footbahlin podcast that he “severely underestimated” Pickett. Roethlisberger just wasn’t sure what to expect from the Pitt product in Year 1.

“I severely, in my opinion, underestimated Kenny,” Roethlisberger said. “I think he throws the ball better than I thought. He runs way better than I thought. I don’t know if he’s faster or just more elusive, but he runs the ball way better than I expected. His decision-making is really, really good. His leadership, his toughness. Just enough of an edge to him it looks like. So, I apologize, not that I made this like vocal to anybody else, but in my own head. What I was saying, Kenny keep doing what you are doing, because you are leading this team and becoming the guy that I think everyone was hoping you would be. I think the sky’s the limit for him really.”

Roethlisberger wants to see what Pickett can do in the coming seasons. But so far, he sees the potential of a franchise quarterback.

“Now, we got to see what Year 2 and 3 look like. That will be the key, in my opinion, to really take the next step,” Roethlisberger said. “But, he is all that and even more than I thought he was going to be. I mean, he led them down the field two weeks in a row (for game-winning touchdowns), in Baltimore against a defense who hadn’t given up a touchdown (at home) in 15 quarters. Takes them down the field, keeps some plays alive, runs some, throws some.

“And then the last play scrambling, the defender had his back to Kenny. And we would always say as a quarterback, if the defender has his back to you, you can put it anywhere you want, you can put it right next to his ear because he can’t see you and your guy is wide open.

“It was kind of one of those things where he didn’t need a touchdown right there in terms of timing (since it was third down). He could have probably ran it and got yards, and done a safer thing. But he’s playing with confidence right now that is showing, and it’s oozing out of him and his team.”

Roethlisberger also gave praise to Najee Harris for making the game-winning touchdown grab.

“Again, I’m going to give credit to Naj, too. Because Naj is playing with confidence right now,” Roethlisberger said. “To make that play, that’s a catch receivers make, tight ends make. He made that play. Unbelievable play by Naj. Great trust by Kenny, getting out there (and) making the throw. … Just an unbelievable drive. The guts, the courage to do it at that place. It’s almost like in watching it that Kenny was like, ‘Oh, I’m in Baltimore on primetime?’ He’s just playing with this coolness like, ‘Oh whatever.’ So, good for him and them and everybody.”

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