The Pittsburgh Steelers took care of business at home against the Cleveland Browns in the regular season finale, winning by a final score of 28-14. While the Steelers beat Cleveland and the Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets, sending Miami into the playoffs as the seventh seed in the AFC, ending the Steelers’ season. Pittsburgh ends the season at 9-8, going 7-2 since the team’s bye week, but falls short of qualifying for a playoff spot.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett spoke to the media after the game and was asked how much a playoff berth would mean to him in terms of having another chance to improve and develop in a postseason environment. Pickett responded that playoff experience falls short of what title contention would mean to him and this football team.
“I don’t even think it’s just my learning curve,” Pickett told the media Sunday during his postgame press conference that was broadcast on the team’s YouTube channel. “I think it’s about playing for the championship. That’s what it’s all about. So we would have had a chance if we had that chance. When you don’t take care of your work, you don’t control your own destiny. So that’s exactly what happened.”
The Steelers got the game they needed to win against Cleveland, and the Bills did them a favor by beating the Patriots, who defeated Pittsburgh back in Week 2. However, the last domino to fall for the Steelers to sneak into the playoffs was the Jets beating the Dolphins and New York not being able to get the job done.
Pickett may feel the urge to be eliminated for postseason contention because he may feel directly responsible for Pittsburgh’s loss to Miami in Week 7 on Sunday Night Football. If you remember that game, Pickett threw three INTs with two straight TDs to put the Steelers on top of the Dolphins after the defense kept Miami from getting on the scoreboard in Game 2. half.
Pickett has since improved as a passer, showing better ball security as a passer while helping his team go 7-2 after a tryout week and return to playoff contention as Pittsburgh poised for a top-five pick in the 2023 midseason NFL draft. While several other factors played into Pittsburgh’s loss to Miami a few months ago, it’s easy to see where Pickett might feel conflicted as his previous mistakes against the Dolphins knocked Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes out of their hands.
Lastly, Kenny Pickett showed growth and poise during his rookie season, initially struggling to take care of the football and moving the offense down the field, but showing impressive flashes in the waiting moments of games, including against the Ravens and Raiders where he successfully led the offense late fourth quarter to take the lead and secure the win. However, Pickett’s past mistakes will be a great lesson to learn about the importance of each game, especially Pittsburgh’s loss to Miami.