Who said pre-season games couldn’t be exciting? With seconds remaining in regulation, the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to score the touchdown to beat the Seahawks in their preseason opener, 32-25.
While this game was widely watched for quarterback battles for both clubs, the folks who stayed were treated to a wild finish, as Pittsburgh essentially rose from the dead thanks to a clutch play from the defense . After linebacker Mark Robinson fired Drew Lock, rookie Kenny Pickett showed potential in the first round and led the Steelers on a game-winning touchdown that sent Pittsburgh into a frenzy.
As we mentioned, this game was mostly about quarterbacks on both sides. With that in mind, we’ve taken a deep dive into how each caller performed on Saturday night in this exhibit as well as Pittsburgh’s in-depth throwback, which you can read about in our takeaways below.
Steelers QB Battle Review
Pittsburgh’s top three quarterbacks competing for the Week 1 job played at a high level. Each was able to lead the offense on touchdowns and not really make a lot of mistakes. Mitchell Trubisky got the start and didn’t do anything that should make him lose his mind for the start of the year job. He led the Steelers on a 90-yard touchdown on his first series, which resulted in a touchdown pass to gunner Olszewski.
Perhaps most impressive about this drive was the overall pace of the Steelers offense, nearly covering the length of the field in just under three minutes. This highlights Trubisky’s overall understanding of Matt Canada’s attack, which is encouraging. The former Bear finished his day going 4 of 7 for 63 yards and a touchdown while adding four rushing yards.
Trubisky gave way to Mason Rudolph after two sets, and he carried the baton well for the rest of the first half. That said, things started off a bit shaky as he nearly returned the ball with a fumble. On the very next play, however, he backed up to pass and then delivered a nice fly ball to rookie George Pickens for a touchdown. For the game, Rudolph was 9 of 15 for 93 yards and a touchdown.
To start the second half, Kenny Pickett was applauded by thunder from those at Acrisure Stadium. He rewarded them with a stellar seven-play, 75-yard touchdown where he completed all five of his passes, including a three-yard touchdown to Jaylen Warren.
After that hot start, however, Pickett and the Steelers offense enjoyed a slight lull as they made back-to-back hits that netted just 13 total offensive yards. After initially failing to convert on a fourth and an attempt in the space of two minutes, Pickett had another chance to win a game and didn’t shy away from it, bringing down the attack on the field and – with just seconds left in regulation – connecting with Tyler Vaughns for the go-ahead touchdown.
Pickett went 13 of 15 for 95 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 16 more yards.
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Seahawks QB Battle Review
Seattle’s splits were pretty straightforward with Geno Smith and Drew Lock. The first started and played the entire first half, while the second played the rest of the course. Smith didn’t get off to a particularly strong start, as the Seahawks managed just three points in their first four drives while the Steelers had 17 points. The veteran was able to finish on a high, however, as he led Seattle on a two-minute drill just before halftime to put them within striking distance.
Smith was 3 of 5 on the drive for 37 yards. He added nine yards rushing, including a two-yard rushing touchdown. On the night, he completed 66.7% of his throws for 101 yards to go along with those rushing totals.
To start the second half, Lock was pretty snappy and led the Seahawks on a 73-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17. His first pass of the night was a 39-yard gain for Bo Melton, who basically knocked down the pitch for Seattle, and he then found Dareke Young for the score. He later tied the game again at 25 after connecting with DeeJay Dallas on a 17-yard touchdown that the veteran fullback was able to break a tackle and jump to the end zone.
The well dried up for Lock as play progressed, as the offense snatched up their next possession. He was then stripped down on his last play of the game, which opened the door for Pittsburgh to pick up the win. Lock’s night ended with him completing 11 of 15 throws for 102 yards, two touchdowns and that dreaded fumble.
For a minute, it looked like Pickett’s Cinderella moment was about to drop. Coming off the two-minute warning, it looked like the stage was set for Pittsburgh to have a chance to kill the clock and either score a game-winning touchdown or score a game-winning field goal. However, Pickett was sacked on a fourth-and-a-down from Seattle’s 45-yard line, which turned the script around for Drew Lock to possibly be the preseason hero. That story, however, only lasted one game as Lock was sacked, fumbled the football, and the Steelers defense recovered to return the ball to the offense to go win it.
With new life, Pickett and the Steelers offense rushed 43 yards to the end zone in five plays to take the lead with three seconds left and win the game.
Game of the game
flies through the roof. The Steelers’ second-round pick essentially impressed upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and made a number of scoring plays throughout training camp. Well, that continued on Saturday night in his first look at preseason action.
Pickens had a remarkable touchdown take on a well-thrown fly ball by Mason Rudolph. On a third-and-13 attempt from Seattle’s 26-yard line, Rudolph threw a pass to the right-back end zone pylon. After Pickens stepped on his defender, he secured the over-the-shoulder hold and – crucially – kept both feet in bounds.
Although it’s still early days, it looks like Pittsburgh has found another one star receiver in the draft.
From there, the Steelers will hit the road for the only time this preseason when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars next Saturday. Meanwhile, the Seahawks will return home to Lumen Field and await the Chicago Bears. These two NFC teams will open Week 2 of the preseason on Thursday.