Pickett grows up; what was Rivera doing?

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With Steelers’ season on the line, rookie QB Kenny Pickett made several big throws. Commanders coach Ron Rivera displayed a stunning lack of awareness.


Week 17 in the NFL clarified much of the playoff picture, though not all loose ends have been resolved.

One thread that was came in the NFC South, where the improbable run of the Carolina Panthers came to an end, in large part because of the way they defended Tom Brady’s favorite target, Mike Evans. Now, Tampa Bay has won the NFC South.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Green Bay Packers (via a Washington Commanders loss) now control their destiny for the last remaining playoff spot in the NFC. But this team is much more than just quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

In the AFC, the Miami Dolphins continued their freefall and the New England Patriots climbed into the last open wild card spot … for now.

Here are the winners and losers from the penultimate week of the 2022 NFL season.


Kenny Pickett grows up

Facing a defense that hadn’t allowed a touchdown at home over the previous 15 quarters, Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett made several massive throws with their season on the line, down four points and needing a touchdown to go ahead.

Pickett (15-of-27 passing for 168 yards with one touchdown) didn’t post huge numbers, but he played reasonably well. It was the game-winning series, however, when he shined. In the series, Pickett completed five of his six throws for 62 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown to running back Najee Harris in which Pickett escaped pressure and delivered an accurate pass on the move. He also converted two rushing first-down conversions on third downs via quarterback sneaks. Now, more importantly for the Steelers (8-8), their slim playoff hopes stayed alive with the victory. Pittsburgh needs to beat the Browns next week and have both the Patriots and the Dolphins drop their games.

32 THINGS WE LEARNED: QBs remain predictive, whether starting or backing up 

OPINION: Don’t count out Tom Brady, but Bucs need everyone to avoid one-and-done in playoffs

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Eagles fail to clinch NFC’s No. 1 seed, while Packers control fate

Even if they miss playoffs, Lions rising

Winners of seven of their last nine, the Lions have an outside shot to make the postseason. Detroit (8-8) will need to beat the Packers (8-8) in Week 18 but will also need the Seahawks (8-8) to lose against the Rams (5-11). Frankly, all of that happening is unlikely, but — either way — this season has been a resounding success for Dan Campbell and the Lions.

Read More: Pickett grows up; what was Rivera doing? 2023-01-03 20:54:17

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