The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 of regular season action. The Steelers were winners in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.
Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game...
Stat Line: 17 carries, 86 yards, 5.1 average, 0 TD, 14 yard long / 1 catch, 6 yards
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Najee Harris look like 2021 Najee Harris, but he finally arrived. Harris was not just running hard, but showing his ability to make defenders miss, make something out of nothing, and be a bruiser of a back was fun to watch. No, Harris hasn’t hit the 100-yard mark yet in a game this season, but he’s been extremely effective since the bye week. Hopefully this trend continues, because it looks like Harris is close to breaking a big run every time he touches the football.
Stat Line: 3 catches, 76 yards, 25.3 average, 57 long, 5 targets
Did you predict Pat Freiermuth to have the longest pass play so far this season? A 57-yard catch and run? Me neither, but it happened. Freiermuth is becoming one heck of a weapon for this offense, and you can still see how he could be utilized more than how he is currently being utilized. Nonetheless, only getting 5 targets, he made the most out of every one which came his way and was catchable.
Stat Line: 1 catch, 17 yards, 1 TD, 1 target
On a day where both Connor and Cam visited their father’s grave in Atlanta that morning, Connor scored his first professional touchdown on a beautiful route/catch in the back of the end-zone. It was a great moment, and hopefully this play sparks an uptick in both play and production from the rookie TE/H-Back.
Stat Line: 37 carries, 154 yards, 4.2 average, 14-yard long
Another game, another 100 yards as a team. While Najee Harris hasn’t broke then 100 yard plateau yet this season, the team as a general is running the ball well right now. Doesn’t matter if it’s Harris, Benny Snell, Steven Sims or even Kenny Pickett. This offense is finding success running the ball, and they are embodying the equation to winning with a rookie quarter — run the ball.
Stat Line: 7 tackles, 5 solo, 1 TFL, 1 pass defense, 1 INT
Fitzpatrick led the Steelers in tackles vs. Atlanta, but it was great to see him get his hands on a football again. While he has been his usual steady self, Fitzpatrick’s interception of Marcus Mariota sealed the win for the Steelers. Should he have scored instead of run out of bounds? His logic was tough to argue with. After the game he said, “I didn’t want to go back out there again.” Fair enough.
Pressley Harvin III
Stat Line: Only 2 punts, 1 downed at the 2
For a large portion of the game I thought this was going to be a Peyton Manning game when he played for the Colts and the punter would go games without every punting a ball. Harvin was called on to punt twice in the game, and the last being the best. His punt which was downed at the 2-yard line put the Falcons behind the eight ball, and Minkah did the rest. Kudos to Harvin to taking care of business in a game he wasn’t called upon a lot.
Stat Line: 4/4 FGs, 1/1 XP
Whatever Wright is doing, he needs to keep doing it. Why? Because he is living right. Not many kickers can say they’ve bounced two field goals through the upright in consecutive weeks, but Wright has. On top of his placekicking, his kickoffs were perfectly executed. Tip of the cap to Danny Smith, but the Steelers kick coverage units looked vastly improved this week, and Wright was a big reason why.
Stat Line: 0 Sacks / 154 rushing yards
The Steelers’ offensive line has been really good this season, but borderline great since the bye week. In all four games since the week off, the offense has rushed for over 100 yards in every game. On top of that, until Chuks Okorafor missed a snap or two vs. the Falcons, he and Mason Cole are the only linemen to miss any snaps so far this season. Continuity is important, and the Steelers are proving it as such. They’ve come a long way since the preseason narratives talked about getting quarterbacks killed and not being able to run the ball.
3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 6-for-12
BTSC Stat Geek Dave Schofield tells me the goal shouldn’t be 50%, but 40%. I refuse to lower the bar, and the Steelers keep meeting me there.
Stat Line: 4 straight games without a turnover
I knew the Steelers hadn’t turned the ball over many times the past few games, but I didn’t realize this was a streak which was reaching the franchise realm. This stat from BTSC’s Bradley Locker is crazy.
The #Steelers have gone four straight games without a turnover.— Bradley Locker (@Bradley_Locker) December 4, 2022
That's the franchise's longest streak since at least 1939!
Box score data was not listed for all games before 1939, so not sure if this stretch is an all-time record.
Over a month without a turnover. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/9inEgtE0W4
Stat Line: 5 catches, 60 yards, 12.0 average, 20 long, 11 targets
Johnson might be one of the more frustrating players in recent memory to don the black and gold. For every nice catch he has, he has a mind-numbing play which makes you want to rip your hair out. Johnson was fortunate his would-be fumbled was overturned by video replay, but when targeted 11 times you hope to have more of an impact on the game.
2nd Half Rush Defense
Stat Line: Surrendered 146 total, over 100 in 2nd half
The Steelers held the Falcons to under 30 yards rushing in the first half, but the second half is when the flood gates opened. The Steelers rushing defense was put to the test in Week 13, I’m just not sure they passed.
Stat Line: 7 penalties for 30 yards
I feel like I say it every week, but it isn’t so much about the overall number of penalties, or penalty yardage. It’s about when these penalties happen. The Diontae Johnson offsides, delay of game penalties are those self-inflicted wounds which need eliminated. Need to play clean football.
Stat Line: 5 Drives, 1 TD
The Steelers had 5 scoring drives in this game, but were only able to come up with a single touchdown. That ratio is something which needs to improve in the coming weeks if they want to be a team who can do some damage, they have to start putting up at least two touchdowns when the situation presents itself.
Draft Pick Seekers
Stat Line: Currently 14th Selection
For all those people who die a little inside when the Steelers win a game, because you want the higher draft pick, I’m sorry for your loss.
If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!