Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson with 4:02 remaining in the game to narrowly defeat the Tennessee Titans 20-16 on Thursday Night Football.
Not only did the catch give Pittsburgh the lead and eventually the win but it was also the first touchdown grab for Johnson since 2021, ending his 668-day barren run.
Back during the 2021-22 season Johnson hauled in eight TD grabs, going all 17 games in 2022-23 without finding his way into the endzone.
Pittsburgh (5-3) bounced back from a dismal loss to Jacksonville on Sunday by doing what they’ve done fairly regularly this season. Hanging around just long enough to pull off a win at the end of a game.
Four of the Steeler’s five wins have come in games they trailed entering the fourth quarter.
Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson recorded his first touchdown catch since 2021
The catch also gave the Steelers the lead late and eventually the win over the Tennessee Titans
Pickett struggled at times while dealing with a rib injury but got it together late, completing 19 of 30 for 160 yards, including a 32-yard strike to Johnson down the right sideline on the go-ahead drive.
Running back Jaylen Warren had 112 yards of total offense, including a 22-yard run down the sideline that helped set up the winning score.
Tennessee rookie quarterback Will Levis played well in his second NFL start but couldn’t match the electricity of his first, a four-touchdown masterpiece against Atlanta.
Levis threw for 262 yards but his 39th and final pass ended up being the first interception of his career when Steelers linebacker Kwon Alexander picked off a pass at the goal line with 6 seconds remaining to seal it.
Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks was carted off the field with just over 2 minutes to go when he landed hard on the Acrisure Stadium turf after unsuccessfully trying to haul in a fourth-down heave from Levis.
The second-year pro lay on the Acrisure Stadium turf for several minutes while being tended to by medical staff from both teams. He was carted off the field but did have movement in all four extremities. The Titans said Burks had full movement in all his extremities, it was reported on the Amazon TV broadcast.
The Steelers moved embattled offensive coordinator Matt Canada from the coaching box to the sideline in hopes of helping provide a spark to a unit that began the night near the bottom of the league in every meaningful statistical category.
The immediate returns were encouraging. Pickett directed a 78-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown run on Pittsburgh’s opening possession, the first time Steelers have reached the end zone on their initial drive during a game Pickett started in over a year.
Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks was also carted off the field during with a head injury
Yet it wasn’t sustainable. While there were pockets of success here and there, Pickett struggled with his accuracy at times and the offense reverted to the slog that’s become its signature.
The Titans responded to take a 13-10 halftime lead behind some poised play by Levis and Derrick Henry’s unique brand of fury. Henry scored on a 2-yard dive – with 305-pound defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons serving as lead blocker – and Levis later ran the 2-minute offense expertly to set up a 36-yard field goal by Folk to put Tennessee up at the break.
The teams traded field goals in the third quarter – Pittsburgh’s after wide receiver George Pickens failed to get his left foot down for what should have been a touchdown reception – with Folk’s third field goal putting the Titans up 16-13 heading into the fourth.
Right where the Steelers wanted them.