PITTSBURGH, PA — Breece Hall ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 16 seconds remaining and Zach Wilson and the New York Jets spoiled Kenny Pickett’s debut in Pittsburgh by rallying for a 24-20 victory over the Steelers on Sunday.
The Jets (2-2) won in Pittsburgh for just the second time in franchise history after Wilson — making his season debut — led them down the field late after the second of Pickett’s three interceptions gave New York the ball back with 3:42 to go.
Wilson took the Jets 65 yards in 10 plays, the final two coming as Hall churned his way across the goal line. The play was initially ruled a fumble at the 1, but overturned on review.
Wilson finished 18 of 36 for 252 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his first game since injuring his right knee in the preseason opener. He also became the first quarterback in Jets history to catch a touchdown when he hauled in a 2-yard pass from Braxton Berrios in the second quarter in New York’s version of the “Philly Special” run by the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
The catch gave New York a 10-point lead. The Jets were up 10-6 at the half and the Steelers made a move that was inevitable at some point, inserting Pickett in place of the struggling Mitch Trubisky.
Pickett, the 20th overall pick in the draft who dutifully sat behind Trubisky as the Steelers endured a bumpy opening month, walked onto the same field where he starred collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh to a massive ovation while Trubisky — who went 7 of 13 for 84 yards with an interception in the first half — stood on the sideline in a baseball cap.
Pickett provided an immediate spark, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to run for a pair of touchdowns in his debut, the second a 2-yard scramble that gave the Steelers (1-3) a 20-10 lead with 13:41 remaining.
Wilson responded with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis that drew the Jets within 20-17 with 7:35 to go.
Pickett drove the Steelers into New York territory, but his sideline throw to tight end Pat Freiermuth was high and late. The 6-foot-5 Freiermuth leapt in an effort to catch the ball, only to see it smack off his hands and into the awaiting arms of a diving Michael Carter II that set up the winning drive.
Pickett finished 10 of 13 for 120 yards and three interceptions, the final one a Hail Mary to the end zone on the final snap that was picked off by Lamarcus Joyner, sending the Jets spilling onto the field.
The Steelers, now 0-7 all-time without injured star outside linebacker T.J. Watt, head into the most difficult part of their schedule riding a three-game losing streak and with the franchise now in the hands of a rookie who hardly looked cowed by the stage but will likely endure some very public growing pains as he learns on the job.