George Pickens silences critics with epic performance; Steelers cling to playoff hopes with win over Bengals

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George Pickens heard the noise and knew he had to change the narrative.

In the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts, he showed zero effort on a block that could have resulted in a touchdown.

Teammate Jaylen Warren and former Steelers coach Bill Cowher criticized Pickens.

Current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin even seemed to deliver a hard-hitting message earlier this week.

Pickens rewrote the script quickly, and his Steelers delivered a 34-11 rout of the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals Saturday.

The Steelers got the party started early. On their second play, Pickens caught a slant and took it to the house for an 86-yard touchdown. On their next drive, Calvin Austin punched one in on an end-around, and Najee Harris also found the end zone. 

Pittsburgh intercepted Jake Browning twice, once in the end zone, to take a 24-0 lead into halftime.

But on Cincinnati’s first play of the second half, Tee Higgins ran for 80 yards to get the Bengals on the board. The Bengals converted a two-point conversion to make it a two-possession game. 

But the Steelers answered right back with another long score to Pickens, this one for 66 yards. 

george pickens catches a TD

Pickens had just four receptions on the day, but half of them were scores, and he racked up 195 yards on those catches.

Mason Rudolph completed 17 of 27 attempts for 290 yards. So, his 13 completions that didn’t go to Pickens went for 95 yards. Harris ran for 78 yards on 19 carries.

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Jake Browning struggled in this one. While his numbers look good (28-for-42, 335 yards), he turned the ball over three times.

It was a must-win game for the Steelers. Entering the contest, they ranked 10th in the AFC. Now, they have the tiebreaker over the Bengals from sweeping the season series after both teams moved to 8-7. 

george pickens celebrates td

The Steelers moved up just one spot in the playoff picture, and there are three 8-6 teams still ahead of them. Cincy dropped from the sixth seed to 10th with the loss. They had a 37.7% chance to get in the playoffs before this game, but that has now dropped to 15%.

Pittsburgh has a date in Seattle against the Seahawks on New Year’s Eve, while the Bengals will go on the road for a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.

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