After a poor showing against the Baltimore Ravens six days ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers picked up their first home win of the season with a 41-17 win over the visiting Atlanta Falcons. James Conner, T.J. Watt and Antonio Brown all had big days for the Steelers while the usually high-powered Falcons offense were stymied by the Steelers defense.
The Steelers lead at the half with two touchdowns
The game started off slow for both teams as neither offense could get into a rhythm early. The first team to do so was the Steelers and they finished off a four minute drive with a one yard touchdown run by James Conner. They followed up that drive with another scoring one as Ben Roethlisberger found Juju Smith-Schuster after another roughly four minute drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Up until then, the Steelers defense had managed to limit the Falcons to punts throughout the first quarter but Matt Ryan produced an eight play drive that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown reception by Mohamed Sanu who picked up a short pass from Ryan before making his way down into the end zone past a few tackles from Steelers players. Both defenses then managed to force the offenses into punting situations but it was the Falcons secondary who had the last laugh as the half drew to a close. With Roethlisberger in the red zone, he tried to pick up his favorite target, Antonio Brown, but the Falcons were prepared for it and safety Damontae Kazee was there to pick off the intended pass.
The Falcons have no answers for a great second half showing by the Steelers
That final play in the first half did not seem to deter the Steelers who had found the right plays to keep the Falcons offense. After the Falcons were forced to punt on the first drive of the third quarter, Roethlisberger and the Steelers marched down the field and the quarterback made no mistake this time in the red zone, finding Brown for a nine yard touchdown pass. With the offense playing so well, the Steelers defense decided to show up and make plays of their own. On the ensuing drive by the Falcons, which led to another punting situation for the visitors, Roosevelt Nix blocked the punt and gave his offense great field position. The Steelers capitalized on that as Conner rushed for two yards for his second touchdown of the day.
Atlanta managed to find the end zone again when Ito Smith rushed two yards for a touchdown after a nine play drive by the Falcons but Matt Ryan found it difficult to get any passing rhythm as the Steelers defensive lined pressured him at every opportunity. The Steelers defense ended the day with six sacks, three of which came from T.J. Watt alone, and kept Ryan off of his front foot for the majority of the game.
Antonio Brown got on the board again in the fourth quarter, ending his day with two touchdowns and 101 receiving yards as the Steelers made sure that an Atlanta Falcons comeback was now very unlikely. With the game becoming out of reach for the Falcons, T.J. Watt showed up once again to force a fumble off of Matt Ryan and L.J. Fort was there to recover the ball in the end zone, giving the Steelers defense their first touchdown of the game and closing out the game. The Falcons are now 1-4 and sit at the bottom of the NFC South while Steelers move to 2-2-1 and within striking distance of the rest of the AFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers Game Leaders: B. Roethlisberger: 19/29, 250 YDS, 3 TDs, 1 INT; J. Conner: 110 YDS, 2 TDs; A. Brown: 101 YDs, 2 TDs; J. Conner: 75 YDS.
Atlanta Falcons Game Leaders: M. Ryan: 26/38, 285 YDS, 1 TD; D. Freeman: 32 YDS; A. Hooper: 77 YDS; M. Sanu: 73 YDS, 1 TD.