The Pittsburgh Steelers entered their Week 13 game vs. the Atlanta Falcons hoping to do something they hadn’t done all season — win back-to-back games. Coming off a Monday night win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers entered the game as a banged up unit, dealing with several bumps and bruises heading to Atlanta.
Banged up or not, the Falcons won the opening coin toss and elected to defer their possession to the second half. It meant Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense would take the field to start the game, and the offense did what they do most, drive the field. The time-consuming drive featured plenty of third down conversions and tough running by Najee Harris, but the drive ended with a 46-yard Matthew Wright field goal which banked off the right upright, his second bank in the last two games, to make the score 3-0 with 7:32 left in the opening quarter.
Trying to answer the Steelers’ opening drive points, the Falcons moved the ball, but stalled after penalties saw them facing a 3rd and 20. The result was a punt, giving the ball back to Pittsburgh with 4:23 remaining in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh’s second drive started out very much like their first, and it had the offense in Atlanta territory at the end of the quarter. However, the Steelers second drive was very much like their first with the offense moving into Atlanta territory, and having to settle for a Wright field goal. Again from 46-yards, the kick made the score 6-0 with 13:34 remaining in the opening half.
The Mariota led offense was dynamic in their second possession, pushing the ball down the field and combining those passes with big runs. The Falcons’ offense moved quickly into Pittsburgh territory, but when the field shortened the Steelers’ defense tightened up. A Larry Ogunjobi tackle for loss set up a 3rd and 13, and Cam Heyward got to Mariota to force a 50-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good, making the score 6-3 with 9:20 remaining in the second quarter.
The Steelers’ offense continued to move the ball down the field, and this drive was jump-started by a 3rd down completion to Pat Freiermuth where he turned the ball up field and made defenders miss on his way to a 57 yard gain. Just a few plays later Pickett hit fellow rookie Connor Heyward in the end-zone for the first touchdown of the game.
The Wright extra point was good, making the score 13-3 with 7:06 left in the quarter.
Atlanta’s offense did their best Steelers impression, as it pertains to moving the ball. However, like the Steelers in their first two possessions, the drive resulted in nothing more than a field goal. The Koo 51-yard field goal was good, making the score 13-6.
With 5:05 remaining in the opening half, the Pickett led offense continued to move the ball with ease. A 20-yard completion to Diontae Johnson to star the drive got the ball into Atlanta territory. A run by Pickett and Harris got the offense in field goal range, and that’s all they got with a 46-yard Wright field goal with 1:29 left in the half.
Atlanta’s drive didn’t equate in points, and the 16-6 score would carry into halftime.
Starting the second half with the football, the Falcons drive only lasted a handful of plays before punting the ball to the Steelers for their opening possession of the second half.
The Steelers’ haven’t played well offensively in the third quarters in recent weeks, but that fortune changed vs. the Falcons, albeit slightly. An impressive drive which saw the Steelers rush for over 100 yards as a team, ended in a familiar fashion, a Matthew Wright field goal. The kick was good, making the score 19-6 with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
Desperately needing points, the Falcons did it the way they’ve done it the entire season, running the football. Whether it was Marcus Mariota or a slew of running backs, the Falcons ran their way into the red-zone for the first time of the game. It took only two plays once reaching the red-zone for Atlanta to score their first touchdown. The extra point was good, making the score 19-13 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
Facing a 3rd and 7 to start the 4th quarter, a pass intended for Diontae Johnson looked as if it was caught and fumbled; however, the review had the officials overturn the call on the field. It resulted in the Steelers’ first punt of the game by Pressley Harvin III.
The momentum had clearly swung in Atlanta’s favor, and they continued to run the ball down the Steelers’ throats. The drive equated to a first and goal situation, and despite a holding call which backed them almost out of the red-zone, they had a 3rd down chance from the 10-yard line. The pass intended for Drake London fell incomplete, and resulted in another Koo field goal to make the score 19-16.
Despite the change of momentum, the Steelers controlled their own destiny with the offense getting the football back. A good mix of run and pass had the Steelers across midfield at the two-minute warning. Facing a 3rd and 5 with the Falcons out of timeouts and 1:40 left in regulation, Kenny Pickett kept the ball on an end around and stayed in bounds to kill more clock.
The Steelers elected to punt the football, bypassing a lengthy Matthew Wright field goal, and Harvin pinned the Falcons at the 2-yard line. Mariota’s pass on first down was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick, who wisely went out of bounds to kill the clock. The Steelers got in victory formation and went on to win 19-16.
It was the first time the Steelers won back-to-back games in 2022, moving their record to 5-7, and host the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 at Acrisure Stadium. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the regular season.