The Pittsburgh Steelers only led for 46 seconds on Saturday night – but that was all they needed.
Those 46 seconds were the final 46, as rookie George Pickens caught the game-winning touchdown on the Steelers’ final drive of the night.
The score – from one rookie (Kenny Pickett) to another – gave the Steelers a 13-10 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.
The gutsy performance came on the same night that the franchise retired Franco Harris’ No. 32, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, also against the Raiders.
Harris died earlier this week, just days before he could celebrate the anniversary on Friday and see his number in the rafters.
The Steelers wore their throwback jersey, as well as a patch commemorating the anniversary of the iconic play, for the occasion.
Snow fell in Acrisure Stadium all night long, so neither team really did much of anything on offense. In fact, the Steelers actually missed two field goals in the negative-four degree wind chill. There were eight punts on the night and four interceptions (three thrown by Raiders’ Derek Carr).
But somehow, the Steelers offense turned it up late after being silent for the first three quarters. With their first drive of the fourth quarter, they kicked a field goal to make it a 10-6 deficit. Both teams exchanged punts, and after the Steelers forced a three-and-out, they had less than three minutes to score a touchdown to keep their season alive.
The drive that started at their own 24-yard line took 10 plays, one of which was a huge 4th and 1 QB sneak to keep the drive alive. The next play, Pickett found Pickens in the end zone. In fact, that drive was the first time all night they even entered the red zone. But better late than never.
Carr had a chance to tie the game, but threw an interception to ice (no pun intended) the ball game.
Pickett threw for 244 yards, 75 of them on the game-winning drive, on 26-of-39 passing. Four Steelers (Pat Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson, Najree Harris, and Pickens) each had at least five catches. All but Harris had over 55 receiving yards.
The Steelers (7-8) will face the Baltimore Ravens, who clinched a playoff spot earlier in the day, in Week 17, while the 6-9 Raiders will host the NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers on New Years Day.