The Steelers’ Picket-To-Pickens Connection Is Inspiring To Watch

There had been a plan for the rookie QB and the rookie wide receiver all along. The rookie duo provided a glimpse of what that plan entails by picking up where they had left off in Indianapolis.
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The bond between quarterback and receiver was initially forged long before the two became Steelers.

A return to Indianapolis this week revealed how far Kenny Pickett and George Pickens have come together, and where they and the Steelers may be headed.

“The more time we have, we’re closer, we’re gonna bond, just naturally,” Pickens maintained in the immediate aftermath of Monday night’s 24-17 victory over the Colts. “It’s not gonna be ‘gotta do this more,’ or ‘gotta do that less.’

“It’s gonna naturally happen.”

He was talking about the offense in general but could have easily been assessing how far he and Pickett have progressed since the Steelers selected Pickett in the first round and Pickens in the second during last April’s NFL Draft.

Two plays in particular on Monday night clearly illustrated what the Steelers had in mind for the pair all along.



The first was a third-and-9 completion the Steelers had to have on the first play of the fourth quarter. It didn’t win the game, necessarily, but it might well have prevented a total collapse in the wake of a 16-3 lead suddenly having become a 17-16 deficit.

Pickett looked for Pickens, but had to slide left in the pocket to create a passing lane and then square his shoulders again before delivering an on-time, on-target throw.

Pickens finished by making a diving catch with a defensive back on his back, by going down and getting a ball that had been thrown the only place it could have been to achieve a much-needed completion.

First down, and the eventual game-winning drive jump-started.

The second play was the exclamation point.

Benny Snell Jr. had just scored the touchdown that had given the Steelers the lead again. Now, they were going for two and a seven-point advantage.

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This time, Pickett had to scramble. As he did, Pickens adjusted his route on the fly and worked to make himself available. Pickett threw low and away again by design, this time on the run. Pickens dropped to his knees and gave himself just enough room to complete the play in the back corner of the end zone.

That they worked such magic in Indianapolis, where they had first met at last February’s NFL Scouting Combine, made the setting as appropriate as what transpired was inspiring, for Pickett, for Pickens and for the Steelers.

“I knew of him just knowing the top guys around the college game,” Pickett recalled. “Just crazy impressed with the kind of talent that he is. I was always just like, ‘Man, I’d love to play with a guy like that on the outside.’

“We had a great relationship starting there, I think, and then it’s just grown since then.”

Pickett, then a quarterback from Pitt, made just as lasting an impression on Pickens, then a wide receiver from Georgia.

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“He wants to be great, that’s really the biggest thing,” Pickens insisted of Pickett. “He wants to be great. When I met him then, that’s when I knew.

“When we linked up (with the Steelers), it was like old friends again.”

For the Steelers, Monday night was like old times again for the first time in a while.

A QB and a receiver making plays, by the numbers and by improvising as necessary with a game hanging in the balance.

It won’t be the last time.

Pickett and Pickens may be just getting started, but they’re off and running.

They’re still a long way from a storybook ending, but the initial chapter has been written.

Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section