Labriola on the win over the Ravens

In the last four regular seasons, the Steelers have faced the Ravens eight times, going 5-3. Of his three games the Steelers lost, two were when he had to face Duck Hodges at quarterback, and the third was when the quarterback threw his three interceptions. .

The Steelers faced the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, putting their playoff lives in jeopardy, but Hodges wasn’t their quarterback and the man who was their quarterback never turned the ball over. In fact, for the second week in a row, in his second straight or better game against an AFC opponent, Kenny Pickett directed the game-defining scoring his drive late in the fourth quarter and scored fewer touchdowns on his pass. concluded it with. Less than 1 minute left.

After a 13-10 win over the Raiders on Christmas Eve and a 16-13 win over the Ravens on New Year’s Day, the Steelers will host Week 18 against Cleveland, giving the punchers a chance to push themselves . His AFC playoff field one season after Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired. And the nature of his two recent victories adds additional evidence to their already strong claim that he found the right person to follow Roethlisberger.

Using year-to-date stats, it’s not at all difficult to argue that Pickett is just the bottom feeder in the NFL’s quarterback pecking order, but the eyes tell a different story. There is a distinct difference between playing back and being a quarterback, and in the past eight weeks Pickett has become the Steelers’ quarterback.

After throwing seven interceptions in his first four regular season appearances as a rookie curiosity, Pickett has thrown only two interceptions in his next eight starts. 500 at 8-8, following Sunday’s comeback win against the Ravens. Along the way, Pickett has focused on preparing, researching and maintaining his one game at a time. Along the way, he earned credibility by stepping up and making plays to help his veteran teammates win games.

And from the big NFL throws in the 4th quarter in wins in Indianapolis, to wins in Atlanta and Carolina, he turned the ball over and stressed his units so as not to impede a strong performance by the defense. grew to It controlled the game and engineered game-winning touchdown drives in the final seconds against the Raiders and Ravens. He’s becoming a capable NFL starting quarterback and can be relied upon to determine winners and losers in regular season games.

“I think we always trusted him,” said Harris, a player who spent the No. 1 pick in the draft before the Steelers did the same with Pickett. “It’s really about us as a team, just making sure we’re clicking right. At the beginning of the season, we really weren’t clicking right. In this block, in this cut, Now, this. He, it’s just running on our side for us to score.”

That’s not all. Because when an NFL offense is in sync, it can look like a dance group. In that analogy, the quarterback is the choreographer. In his last 46 seconds of the 3rd quarter and all of the 4th, Pickett pitched for 80 yards on 13 plays as the Steelers turned his 13-6 deficit into his 16-13 victory. , directed an 80-yard scoring drive on another 11 plays. He achieved his 100 yards on 7 of his 12 passes, extended possession on quarterback sneaks, and converted a third-and-one pair.

He used his athleticism to buy time in the pocket or create a better pitching window to get the ball to its intended target. He pushed the ball into the middle of the field when it was available and worked in the sideline area when it wasn’t – 15 yards to George Pickens on the right sideline. 21 yards to Dionte Johnson in the same area. Pat Fly Elmoose 20 yards down the middle of him. 28 yards from the middle to Stephen Sims. It was the right decision every time, and Pickett’s arm talent made each one work as designed.

In a post-game questioning, manager Mike Tomlin said, “I can’t say enough about our young quarterback.” He smiled in the face of it. Ready to be a man.I think I have benefited a lot from the proximity (has) in the evaluation process.None of us are surprised what he does He gave us such comfort.”

There should be no further discussion of Pickett’s value as a No. 1 draft pick, the Steelers’ use of the 20th overall pick instead of the offensive lineman, and Tomlin’s reliance on Pickett at halftime. Appearing in Game 4 of the season (against the New York Jets), he commits to him as the starter for the Steelers.

No, he’s not Roethlisberger. And not only does he have the stats to deserve the first ballot into the Hall of Fame, but one of only a few dozen quarterbacks in the Super Bowl demands or expects him to be a clone of even one player. doing. Multiple Lombardi’s trophy-winning era has stacked decks against him. But it’s fair and accurate to point to wins over the Raiders in sub-zero weather and wins over the Ravens in Baltimore, and admit that Pickett’s role in both of them was Roethlisberger-esque.

Hear what Tomlin said when asked about the winning 10-yard touchdown pass to Harris. Play play. Just like last week, I just like the collective overall attitude when it’s thick. It’s just that. The reality is always a little different than drilling. ”

On the NBC telecast, Chris Collinsworth said: Clutch the part of the game that makes the quarterback stand out. ”

It’s rare to find a rookie quarterback who thrives in the role of trigger man in that situation. .

After the game, Pickett told the media: “Honestly, I’m focused on next week. That’s always a good thing.Join a huddle and see how confident everyone is as a quarterback.They have a lot of faith in you.And I have a lot of fun at their gatherings. We put our trust in. So when you’re there, you definitely have an opportunity. It’s a step in the right direction. You know you still have a lot of business to take care of.”

Arguably, getting the right person at quarterback is Job 1 in the NFL.

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