Main menu


N.J.’s Kenny Pickett lands in concussion protocol during Steelers’ upset of Buccaneers

After proving himself in the postseason and emerging as a better option than Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett got his first Acrisure Stadium start.

But the big home debut for the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback did not have a happy ending.


Midway through the third quarter, Pickett suffered a concussion after taking a hit from Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White. Suddenly, it was time for Trubisky to slip back into his originally awarded role.

This was Trubisky’s first time on the field since Week 4, when he was benched at halftime before the Steelers’ eventual 24-20 loss to the New York Jets. Sunday, he went 9-for-12 for 144 yards to help Pittsburgh to a 20-18 win over the Bucs.

Pickett made his first NFL regular-season start on Oct. 9, and the Steelers lost to the Buffalo Bills, 38-3. The No. 20 pick overall in the 2022 NFL Draft threw for a career-high 327 yards, connecting on 34 of 52 pass attempts. But he also threw an interception and was sacked three times.

When Pickett exited the game Sunday, he had gone 11-for-18 for 67 yards and thrown his first career touchdown pass. Pittsburgh was up, 13-12.

Want to bet on the NFL?

See the best NJ Sports Betting sites

Pickett, the Oakhurst, N.J. native who starred at Ocean Township High School, finished third in voting for the 2021 Heisman Trophy Award. He was the first New Jersey native to be a finalist for the Heisman since former Michigan star and ex-New York Giants defensive back Jabrill Peppers in 2016. Pickett had been hoping to be the fourth N.J. high school football product to earn the Heisman Trophy and the first since 1999, when it went to Overbrook product Ron Dayne, a running back at Wisconsin who went on to a career with the Giants.

The 24-year-old Pickett returned to Pittsburgh for a fifth season in 2021, taking advantage of the NCAA’s eligibility give-back for playing through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and had a record-breaking year. Pickett passed for 4,319 yards with 42 touchdowns to eclipse school marks and led the Panthers to their first Atlantic Coast Conference title.