What better way for the Pittsburgh Steelers to start the Acrisure Stadium era than with a preseason victory? Their hard-fought win over the Seattle Seahawks yesterday was both entertaining and satisfying for Steelers fans to watch.
Victory aside, there were several players on the Steelers' side who stood out because of their presence or their performance on the field. In this case, we found four who best exemplified the spirit of the team in this game.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett
Before taking his first NFL snap in the third quarter, rookie Kenny Pickett was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd. From that moment, the energy of the game on the Steelers' side changed as he went to work; first down completion to Jace Sternberger; a 30+ yard run by Steven Sims; and a first down completion to Jaylen Warren. On that drive alone, he would complete five of five pass attempts that would result in a touchdown and a successful 2-point conversion.
With Pickett at the helm, the offense ran smoothly, as he effectively broke down the Seahawks defense with completions in short and intermediate areas. It was only fitting that he would engineer the winning touchdown drive at the end of the game, which electrified the fans in attendance at Acrisure Stadium. With some players, it only takes a few seconds to know if they have "it". For all the struggles he has had to overcome in training camp, Pickett proved he has the tangibles and intangibles needed to become the team's franchise quarterback in the near future.
Running Back Jaylen Warren
To say the least, Jaylen Warren was everything fans thought he would be, and then some. Next to George Pickens, Warren has been the most valuable performer in training camp. Against Seattle, he successfully translated the momentum from training camp and put together an excellent performance, in which he contributed 64 total yards and a touchdown. The Seahawks' defense found out quickly that taking Warren down would be a difficult task, as he showed how physically imposing he can be. In competition for the backup running back position, Warren may have taken the lead with his performance yesterday.
Wide Receiver George Pickens
At this point, not much else needs to be said about rookie sensation George Pickens. As impressive as he has been since the first day of training camp, he replicated his athletic feats against Seattle. He was credited with a 26-yard touchdown by quarterback Mason Rudolph that was a microcosm of the spectacular plays he has been making up to this point. Many have already called him the next Jerry Rice because of his incredible ball skills and route running abilities. Though it may seem far-fetched to make such a comparison, Pickens has the type of potential that could make him a viable Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
Running Back Anthony McFarland Jr.
This year's training camp has presented stiff competition for the backup running back position. Up to this point, running back Anthony McFarland Jr. has made a good case with his strong performances during training camp. Against Seattle, he displayed the type of speed and production that made him a household name during his days with the Maryland Terrapins. He finished the game with 56 rushing yards to lead all Steelers running backs. Between him and Warren, it will be a battle to the finish for the right to become Najee Harris' backup.