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WATCH: Kenny Pickett Throws Two Deep Dimes, Leads Two TD Drives



Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Kenny Pickett was just about perfect in his first two preseason games this season, leading three scoring drives in three opportunities. He was perfect Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

Pickett, the former Pitt star and current Steelers starter, completed all four of his pass attempts for 86 yards in two drives, both drives resulting in short rushing touchdowns — one from Najee Harris and one from Jaylen Warren.

But it was the deep ball — an area of Pickett’s game that detractors have often pointed to — that was on full display Thursday night in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

He completed a 33-yard toss to Diontae Johnson from inside his own 10-yard line, dropping a perfectly thrown ball right into the arms of a streaking Johnson. And he followed up with a perfectly placed 35-yard jump ball for George Pickens — right over the outstretched arms of the Falcons cornerback.

In three preseason games this season, playing in just five drives, Pickett has completed 13-of-15 pass attempts for 199 yards and two touchdowns. And in those drives, the Steelers offense scored five touchdowns. It cannot get any better than that.

It’s just the preseason, of course, but Pickett dominated against the Buffalo Bills’ starters and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ and Falcons’ backups. He has shown a noted improvement in his footwork in the pocket and his placement and velocity on his throws — with both touchdown passes featuring perfect placement. It’s the kind of progress that Pickett needed to show after his first full offseason with the Steelers.

And it was the deep ball that impressed Thursday night, showcasing that velocity and touch on the ball in giving his wideouts balls that only they could haul in.

Pickett completed 245-of-389 pass attempts (63%) for 2,404 yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions (adding 237 rushing yards and three more touchdowns on the ground) last season, and after his second preseason, it appears as though Pickett is on the verge of a breakout sophomore campaign in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers’ first game comes at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 10 against the San Francisco 49ers, with a 1 p.m. kickoff set. It’s the day after Pitt’s home game against Cincinnati.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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