Pickett’s game-winning drive helps Steelers beat Seahawks

Kenny Pickett threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns with 3 seconds left and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 32-25 on Saturday night.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kenny Pickett threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns with 3 seconds left, and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 32-25 for both teams in Saturday night’s preseason opener.

Pickett, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in 2022, is competing with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph to replace retired two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers’ starting quarterback.

Roethlisberger managed the franchise for 18 seasons and led the Steelers to three Super Bowl appearances.

Former University of Pittsburgh standout Pickett played the second half and finished 13 of 15 for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Pickett was fired and forced a turnover on downs, but had a chance to win the game when Pittsburgh’s Mark Robinson sagged Seattle’s Drew Lock and forced a fumble on the next game.

Pickett responded with a five-play 43-yard drive that was crowned by his touchdown pass to Vaughns. He received a loud ovation and chants of “Kenny, Kenny, Kenny” as he took the field for the first time in the third quarter and before the eventual winning streak.

Pickett could certainly hear the fans’ appreciation.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” Pickett said. “It was an incredible feeling. It was really cool. It was something special.”

Lock and Geno Smith are fighting to replace Russell Wilson as Seattle’s starting quarterback. Wilson was traded to Denver during the offseason. It’s the first quarterback contest for the Seahawks since 2012, when Wilson won the rookie job.

Smith and Lock had neither DK Metcalf nor Tyler Lockett on Saturday. Smith played the first half, going 10 of 15 for 101 yards and a quick touchdown. Lock was 11 of 15 with 102 yards and two points, but a crucial fumble that led to Pittsburgh’s winning touchdown.

“Both quarterbacks were efficient,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “Geno could have been perfect and we moved the ball pretty well with Drew.”

All three Steelers quarterbacks threw touchdown passes. Trubisky and Rudolph threw touchdown passes in the first quarter while Pickett converted in his first-ever NFL series and led the Steelers to a game-winning drive.

Trubisky, who played most of the first quarter, finished 4 of 7 for 63 yards on a touchdown. Rudolph finished the half by going 9 of 15 for 93 yards and a score.

Trubisky was No. 2 overall in 2017, while Rudolph has served as Roethlisberger’s back-up for the past four seasons.

Pickett, who threw for 42 touchdowns and led the University of Pittsburgh to the program’s first ACC title, finished third in Heisman Trophy voting and was the 2021 ACC Player of the Year.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was happy with his three quarterbacks after a preseason game.

“They’ve moved their units,” Tomlin said. “They handled the informal things associated with the position related to leadership and communication. It was a good first time for all three.”

Smith, who is entering his fourth season with the Seahawks, filled in briefly last season when Wilson went down with a hand injury. He kept Seattle competitive but also made critical mistakes in losses to Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

RELATED: Four observations on Seahawks’ Week 1 preseason win/loss vs. Steelers

Lock, entering his fourth season, was part of the deal Seattle received in exchange for sending Wilson to the Broncos. Lock has started 21 of 24 games but has been inconsistent in his first three seasons.

The Seahawks poked in the first two series of the game, including a three-and-out, but Smith decided with two hits in the second quarter.

Smith pulled off an effective two-minute drill late in the half as he led the Seahawks in a nine-game, 61-yard touchdown streak in 1:27. He evaded a sack in third and second and later scored a 2-yard touchdown to draw the Seahawks 17-10 at halftime.

Lock twice leveled the game with touchdown drives in the second half, but his fumble late in the fourth quarter proved costly for the Seahawks.

‘I could have handled that better,’ said Lock. “As a quarterback, you can fix (protection). I always take it on the chest and I could have been better at that.”

Trubisky was backed to his 10-yard line to start the game, but he responded by leading the Steelers on a seven-game 90-yard drive in less than three minutes. Trubisky shifted offense to midfield in his second series before the Steelers were forced to stab.

Rudolph played three series and led the Steelers to a touchdown, field goal and three-and-out.

Rudolph recovered from his own fumble and got fired on his first snap, but he threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens two games later. It took Rudolph 17 plays and nearly nine minutes to lead the Steelers to the 3 on his second drive. He almost threw an interception midway through the drive, but the series ended with a 21-yard field goal.

Pickett led the Steelers to a seven-game 75-yard touchdown drive in his first series.

INJURIES

Seahawks: Wide receiver Cody Thompson left the team with a shoulder injury. Cornerback Artie Burns, the Steelers’ former first-round draft pick, was held back with a groin injury.

Steelers: Safety Karl Joseph left the team with an ankle injury while CB Ahkello Witherspoon suffered a shoulder injury. … Pittsburgh also held RB Najee Harris (foot), WR Diontae Johnson (hip), WR Chase Claypool (shoulder), TE Pat Freiermuth (hamstring), RB Benny Snell (knee), LB Alex Highsmith (ribs) and OL Kevin Dotson ( ankle) among others.

NEXT

Seahawks: host Chicago on Thursday.

Steelers: Visit Jacksonville next Saturday.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/nfl/seahawks/picketts-game-winning-drive-helps-steelers-beat-seahawks/281-b8c82abd-cbf2-4cba-97d6-72ff6fb899fb Pickett’s game-winning drive helps Steelers beat Seahawks

Emma Bowman

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