PITTSBURGH — Trailing at halftime on a lackluster performance by their offense, the Steelers made an inevitable move at quarterback Sunday, replacing Mitch Trubisky with rookie Kenny Pickett.
The crowd at Acrisure Stadium roared with approval when Pickett, drafted 20th overall, trotted onto the field for the Steelers’ first possession in the second half against the New York Jets, who held a 10-6 lead. Energized by Pickett, the Steelers scored 20 unanswered points to take a 20-10 lead before allowing two fourth-quarter touchdowns and losing 24-20.
Pickett’s first NFL pass ended with an interception, a long throw to wide receiver Chase Claypool that was picked off by safety Jordan Whitehead. Pickett scored his first NFL touchdown on his second series, converting a quarterback sneak on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Pickett rushed for another touchdown but threw three interceptions, including on a Hail Mary to seal the defeat. He finished 10 of 13 passing for 120 yards.
Trubisky was largely ineffective in the first half, completing 7 of 13 passes for 84 yards and an interception.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin defended Trubisky after last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, saying after the game that he was definitively standing by Trubisky. After seeing his offense sputter Sunday, managing only two field goals (including a 59-yarder as the half expired), Tomlin tried to spark his team by inserting the former Pitt star.