Steelers QB Kenny Pickett leaves loss against Texans after injuring knee

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) leaves the field after an injury during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Houston. (David J. Phillip/AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett sustained a knee injury in the third quarter Sunday against the Houston Texans and it’s unclear if he’ll play next week.

But regardless of who is playing quarterback, the Steelers must find a way to get their offense on track if they hope to bounce back from Sunday’s 30-6 loss to the Texans.

“We all got to do better,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “I’m looking at us in totality, in terms of what we need to do to win.”

Pickett threw for 114 yards with an interception and struggled to move the offense before leaving with the injury. The loss ends a two-game winning streak for the Steelers (2-2) and will likely increase the pressure on third-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada after another subpar offensive performance.

Tomlin said Pickett is being evaluated and that he’d know more about his injury later in the week.

His injury came when, trailing by 10, the Steelers went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 33 with about 90 seconds left in the third quarter. But Pickett was sacked by Jonathan Greenard to give the Texans the ball back.

Pickett remained on the ground for a couple of minutes after the hit before trainers came out to attend to him.

He slowly got to his feet and limped off the field before going into the medical tent on the sideline.

He remained there for a few minutes before walking to the locker room. The team said he had a knee injury but did not specify which knee was injured.

He was replaced by Mitch Trubisky, who wasn’t able to get the offense going either. He was 3 for 5 for 18 yards.

But it wasn’t only the passing game that struggled Sunday, the Steelers had trouble running the ball, too.

The game was also disappointing for a defense that has excelled at getting to quarterbacks this season. T.J. Watt entered the game leading the NFL with six sacks, but he and the rest of the Steelers weren’t able to get to Houston rookie C.J. Stroud and finished with zero sacks.

“We were out of gaps,” Watt said. “We didn’t tackle in the backfield, and that combination leads to what you saw out there today.”

Houston had failed to run the ball effectively all season, but had a season-high 139 yards rushing Sunday, frustrating the Steelers.

“They did a nice job of establishing tempo,” Tomlin said. “Man, we’ve got to be better versus the run. We’re not going to get where we need to be defensively until we settle the run down.”

The performance has Tomlin searching for ways to improve before hosting the AFC North rival Ravens next week.

“We’ve got to make some changes,” he said. “That was an ugly product we put out there today. We’re not going to do the same things and hope for a different outcome. We’ll put those changes in place in our preparation this week.”

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