The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off one of their more impressive wins this year, after a road victory against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football. However, as we enter Week 13 of the 2022-23 NFL season, they sit dead last in the AFC North with a 4-7 record. It’s been a disappointment all things considered, but with a rookie quarterback under center and a lot of injuries to deal with, it’s somewhat expected.
This Sunday the Steelers travel to Georgia to face off against the Atlanta Falcons, who themselves sit second in the NFC South with a five and seven record. First year coach Arthur Smith has implanted a run-heavy offense, that centers around running backs Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier. The Falcons are sitting forth in the NFL in rushing yards at 160 yards per game, and most can assume they will keep the same strategy heading into Week 13.
On today’s episode of The Mike Tomlin Show, that airs on the teams YouTube channel, Coach Tomlin discussed how much focus Cordarrelle Patterson gets when preparing for the Falcons. Tomlin referenced Patterson’s days at the University of Tennessee, where he played his college ball.
“Man, he gets a lot and he’s deserving of a lot. I remember going down to his pro in Knoxville a decade ago now, and boy, Kevin Colbert and I were really impressed.” Tomlin continued, “During different points of that season, he played tailback for them. We just thought, man, that’s an interesting trinket, you know on the college field. Well, this guy’s gone on to start as a tailback in the NFL. He’s been a dynamic kick returner, a legendary kick returner, and a record holder in that area.”
Patterson has truly developed into quite a good player. Coming into the NFL as a wide out, transitioning to running back is not easy. He’s made it look effortless and has still kept that same impact in the return game. In fact, just a few weeks ago Patterson broke the NFL record for most kick return touchdowns in a career. He secured his ninth career kick return touchdown, breaking the tie between Leon Washington and Josh Cribbs. It’s a concerning stat given how much the Steelers’ kick coverage team has struggled since the bye, especially in Monday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“He is a special, special athlete. When you’re around him you oftentimes don’t realize what a big man he is, because he’s a “wide receiver”. I don’t know if you can call him a wide receiver. He’s probably 230 pounds. He’s just a really talented guy, A tough tackle, a guy that has contact, balance, vision and run skills.”
If Pittsburgh wants to stop this Falcons’ offense, it’s most likely going to start with Patterson. He’s dealt with the injury bug early in the season, but rookie Tyler Allgeier has done a great job filling in. It will take another full-team effort in order to stop Atlanta, who is still very much in the NFC South hunt be only just a half game back of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With wins against both New Orleans and Tampa Bay earlier this year, the Steelers look to move to 3-0 when facing the NFC South.