Kenny Pickett, Steelers erupt on offense after Matt Canada's firing to get past Bengals

The Steelers fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada last week in what was their first in-season coaching change since 1941

Kenny Pickett helped orchestrate a rare good offensive outing for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.

For the first time in more than three years, the Steelers racked up more than 400 yards of offense at Paycor Stadium on Sunday in Pittsburgh's 16-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The last time the Steelers’ offense surpassed the 400-yard mark was in Week 2 of the 2020 season, 58 games ago, when Ben Roethlisberger was still leading the team.

Since 2021, according to The Ringer’s Sheil Kapadia, there have been 333 games in which an offense had at least 400 yards in a game across the league. The Steelers accounted for none of them until Sunday.

The Steelers’ win came the same week the team fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Before Sunday’s game, the Steelers were in the bottom five in the league in total yards per game (280.1) and points per game (16.6), and they were second-worst in passing yards with just 170 per contest.

Pickett had struggled, too. The second-year quarterback entered Sunday with 1,772 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. He averaged 3.8 yards per completion last week, which was a season-low, and he held a 35.7 QBR. Things weren't great.

But Sunday was a different story. Though he didn’t throw a touchdown, he went 24-of-33 for 278 yards in the win while averaging 8.4 yards per completion. He hit tight end Pat Freiermuth nine times for 120 receiving yards, and Diontae Johnson and George Pickens each had at least 50 receiving yards. As a team, the Steelers had 421 yards — which is nearly double what the Bengals put up.

The Steelers’ lone touchdown came in the third quarter on a 5-yard run from Najee Harris, who had 99 yards on 15 carries. The touchdown capped a 14-play, 79 yard drive and put the Steelers up 10-7 at halftime.

The Steelers then hit a pair of field goals, and held Cincinnati to just one of its own in the second half, to grab the six-point win.

While Pickett and the Steelers' offense finally had things rolling, the Bengals are also struggling in their own right. Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow is out for the season with a wrist injury, and the Bengals boast one of the worst defenses in the league when it comes to allowing big plays and efficient plays.

Kenny Pickett and the Steelers recorded more than 400 yards of offense for the first time since the 2020 season on Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati.
Kenny Pickett and the Steelers recorded more than 400 yards of offense for the first time since the 2020 season on Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jake Browning went 19-for-26 with 227 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Bengals. Joe Mixon led them on the ground with just 16 yards on eight carries, and Ja’Marr Chase had 81 yards on four catches. The Bengals (5-6) have now lost three straight.

The Steelers are 7-4 and have won five of their past seven games. They’ll host the Arizona Cardinals next week. Even considering Sunday was only one outing after a rough stretch, Pickett’s performance was undoubtedly a building block. Now we’ll see if he can string two games together.