Steelers’ Kenny Pickett expected to remain starting QB: Rookie hopes to make debut without record

While he would certainly trade that for a win, Kenny Pickett still made history in his regular season debut. Pickett, who is expected to make his first career start when the Steelers travel to Buffalo on Sunday, he set two records during his regular season debut last weekend against the Jets.

The Steelers’ first-round pick became the first quarterback in NFL history to run for two touchdowns in his debut (h/t Gerry Dulac from Post-Gazette). He also set an NFL record for most touchdown passes in a game (13), via ESPN Stats & Info.

Pickett replaced Mitch Trubisky early in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Jets. His 1-yard touchdown run gave the Steelers a 13-10 lead midway through the third quarter. His 2-yard score on the ensuing Pittsburgh possession gave the home team a 10-point lead with 13:36 to play.

While the Steelers’ lead looked secure, the Jets finally rallied to spoil Pickett’s party. After Zach Wilson led a Jets scoring drive to cut the deficit to three points, New York took the lead for good on a score set up by Pickett’s interception of Michael Carter II on a pass intended for by Pat Freiermuth.

Pickett finished the game with 102 yards on 10-of-13 passing. Pickett threw three interceptions, tying his NFL record for not having a pass hit on the ground. His first pick came on his first attempt, a deep throw to Chase Claypool that was intercepted by Jordan Whitehead after Claypool couldn’t secure the pass. His third pick was on a Hail Mary to end the game.

It wasn’t perfect, but Pickett showed promise in his debut. He led the Steelers on arguably their best drive of the season to date, a 12-play, 82-yard drive that culminated with his second touchdown run. Pickett showed toughness on the move when he completed an 18-yard strike to Freiermuth on a third-and-8 play despite being tackled by Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.

“It’s not hard,” Pickett said afterward when asked about throwing under pressure. “It’s in the job description. It is what it is. I’m a quarterback. That’s my job. So, I told those guys, I’m going to stand there. I don’t really care. I know they’re going to get it. It’s my job to stand there and fix them.”

Along with Freiermuth, Pickett has developed a quick relationship with fellow rookie George Pickens, who caught six passes for 102 yards Sunday.

“I feel like the whole crowd was cheering for him,” Pickens said of Pickett after the game. “We were already ready to go. He’s just next. We were already ready, though.”

While Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has yet to make the trade official, it’s clear Pickett has the support of his teammates should he get the nod to start Sunday in Buffalo.

“He brought us a spark,” Freiermuth said, via Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan . “The stadium, the fans, us. He did a great job.”

“When he came in, we were more efficient,” Diontae Johnson added. “You could see the energy. He played with swag. That makes us want to play for him. We have to make him better and prepare for next week.”

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