Steelers QB Kenny Pickett Sets Odd Record in NFL Debut

Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett started Sunday’s game against the New York Jets on the bench. But after he relieved an ineffective Mitch Trubisky at halftime, he managed to set a pair of NFL records in the second half.

First and foremost, he set the record for the most pass attempts in NFL history (13) without a pass hitting the ground, as per ESPN Stats & Info. Specifically, he completed 10 passes to Steelers teammates; he also had three passes caught by New York Jets defenders.

Hence his passing stat line of 10 of 13 for 120 yards with three interceptions, the last of which came on a failed Hail Mary attempt that ended the game. Pickett isn’t the only quarterback to throw three INTs in his regular season debut; he’s in the good company of former No. 1 overall picks Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford, as per Daniel Valente, football editor for The Score.

Kenny Pickett the 1st QB to Rush for 2 TDs in His Debut

Meanwhile, Pickett also set a rushing record, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for two touchdowns in his debut, this according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Elias Sports Bureau.

His one-yard quarterback sneak gave the Steelers a 13-10 lead midway through the third quarter.

His two-yard score on Pittsburgh’s ensuing possession gave the Steelers a 10-point lead with 13:36 to play in the game.

But alas, Pittsburgh’s defense could not hold the lead, allowing 14 points in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Jets to escape Acrisure Stadium with a 24-20 upset victory.

Pickett’s Pro Football Focus Grades

For what it’s worth, Pickett earned a 66.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), built on a 71.6 passing grade and 54.1 rushing grade.

PFF charted Pickett with zero turnover-worthy plays, a reference to the fact that his first two interceptions clanged off the hands of his receivers, with Chase Claypool unable to come down with his first NFL pass and Pat Freiermuth failing to make the catch on his second interception, which was recorded by Jets cornerback Michael Carter.

This Coming Sunday: Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky?

It remains to be seen which quarterback will start for the Steelers on Sunday against the 3-1 Buffalo Bills.

“I’m not going to talk extended as we sit here,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin immediately after the loss to the Jets, as per Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “But I like to just keep it where we are in terms of what transpired here today. We’ll deal with next week, next week.”

But in the mind of Steelers second-year tight end Pat Freiermuth, Kenny Pickett ought to be the starter going forward.

“I think with Kenny in there we were able to be the aggressor. Obviously mistakes are going to happen, tipped balls and all that kind of stuff, but we have to continue to work past that and be there for Kenny, especially since he’s a young guy.”

Pickett, 24, was selected by the Steelers in the 1st round of the 2022 NFL Draft (No. 20 overall) out of Pitt.

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