Things got chippy late in the fourth quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ (1-4) 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills (4-1) in Week 5 on Sunday. Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, making his first-career start, found himself in the middle of all the action.
With just over a minute to go and the result no longer in doubt, Pickett was flushed out of the pocket with Bills edge rusher Shaq Lawson in pursuit. As Pickett got rid of the ball, he found Lawson diving at his feet to bring him to the ground. Pickett immediately took exception to the hit and shoved Lawson. That started a brief tugging match until Steelers left tackle Chukwuma Okorafor intervened and Pickett was pulled apart from Lawson.
Officials assessed an unnecessary roughness penalty on Pickett. He addressed the hit with the media after the game.
“From my opinion, I felt like he went after my knee after I threw it,” Pickett said, via ESPN. “That’s it. You know, tempers flare. I don’t care, I’m gonna keep playing to the last play of the game. That was it. All good with me.”
Mike Tomlin Chimes in on Hits Towards Kenny Pickett
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was short in his assessment but agreed with his quarterback’s response, calling it “appropriate.” Tomlin was rather more animated when asked about the play that took place in the third quarter. Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin hit Pickett while he was going for a slide. It was a bang-bang play, with Pickett already in his slide.
Officials did not call a penalty on Hamlin for the hit. Steelers offensive lineman James Daniels, however, received an unnecessary roughness penalty for aiding Pickett. Daniels pushed Hamlin to the ground, starting a melee between the two teams. Tomlin said that he would have liked to have seen a penalty called on Hamlin for the hit.
“I had a problem that the officials didn’t have a problem, not necessarily Hamlin,” Tomlin said. “I love Ham. He a 412-er. He plays hard. He’s a good kid. I had a problem with the fact that it wasn’t officiated in a way that I anticipated it being officiated.”
Pickett, meanwhile, dealt with a tough situation in his first start under center. Pittsburgh got down early, forcing the offense to be one-dimensional. He finished his day 34-of-52 for 327 yards with an interception. Pickett and the offense left points on the table, going 0-for-4 in the red zone.
“Point blank, we didn’t put points up,” Pickett said. “That’s the number one thing. We gotta be a lot better in the red zone. Felt like we moved the ball, but we just couldn’t finish. It’s something that we have to get fixed quickly and get back to the drawing board here on Monday.”