PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett authored the first game-winning two-minute drill of his NFL career in Saturday’s dramatic comeback Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
The young quarterback marshaled the 76-yard drive that took under two minutes of clock time, and put the Steelers ahead for the first time in the game with 46 seconds to play with his touchdown strike to fellow rookie George Pickens.
So what did Pickett say in the huddle on that final drive to inspire his team to victory?
“Really, nothing,” Pickens said. “He really just said the play call. After we got a few first downs, some guys were just saying, ‘Alright, let’s go.’ That was pretty much it, though. It wasn’t no, ‘Alright guys, we need to …’ like a movie story. It was just like, ‘let’s go.’”
Pickett may have been leading a team to late victory in the NFL for the first time, but it’s not like he hasn’t done it before. Pickett had seven game-winning touchdown drives in the final minutes or later in his Pitt career.
Not only is that a Pitt record dating back to play-by-play data becoming available in 1969, it’s as many as the next-two most players combined. Furthermore, all of Pickett’s late drives ended in touchdowns, and three of them came with his team trailing by more than a field goal — the scenario he entered on Saturday.
In his experience, it’s the actions that matter, not the words.
“There is no rah, rah speech that’s going to put the ball in the end zone,” Pickett said. “It’s very simple: Everyone has to lock in, do their job. I am going to call the plays. We are going to get it relayed in. I told them they’re going to execute, I’ll execute and we’re going to win the game. That’s pretty much it.”
That experience in crunch time was a big part of the selling point for the Steelers drafting Pickett in the first round. Head coach Mike Tomlin said he wasn’t surprised that Pickett showed poise under pressure, and it doesn’t sound like Pickett was, either.
“When you’re in the locker room after and your guys are hugging after a win, that’s the best feeling in the world,” Pickett said. “I had no doubt that we were going to get it done.”