The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost three games in a row, including a Week 4 loss to the New York Jets during which the Steelers blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The losing streak has led to a quarterback swap with 2022 NFL Draft first-round pick Kenny Pickett starting in Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills in the path.
Pickett, who replaced starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky at halftime Sunday, is now listed as QB1 on Pittsburgh’s depth chart.
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“I don’t want to take the blame for what happened at Mitch’s feet,” head coach Mike Tomlin said at his news conference Tuesday, according to ESPN. “That’s not fair to him. He’s played better than that description, but we haven’t. So in an effort to be better, in an effort to score more points, in an effort to move the ball more fluidly, we decided to go to Kenny hoping that it would give us a spark. We felt that, not only in terms of our ability to move the ball, but also in terms of energy.
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“And hopefully that’s a catalyst for us as we try to move forward and change the outcome of some of these games.”
Pickett provided a spark for pittsburgh in his half game against New York, scoring the Steelers’ only two rushing touchdowns of the game in a 24–20 loss.
Pickett’s first start will be a tough road game against the 3-1 Bills and a defense that allows the fewest passing yards per game. The Bills have given up three touchdowns through the air while racking up seven interceptions.
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Against the Jets, Pickett threw three interceptions on 10-of-13 passes for 120 yards, though one of his interceptions came on a last-second Hail Mary.
“We have no reservations about what Kenny is going to be able to do in terms of schemes,” Tomlin said. “Obviously we have a level of concern about the environment we take them into, but you have a level of concern about any quarterback you take into that environment versus that defense and that spot.
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“Kenny has shown us maturity at every point throughout this process. He’s older than most rookies, and that was obviously discussed before the draft process, the things that we value in him from a draft perspective: shooting fluid and quick decisions, professional anticipation and things of that nature have proven to be true. That’s why we took it when we had the opportunity to do it.”