In the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 19-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium earlier today, the team’s offense had a few drives where they were rolling down the field. While they had a lot of drives stall out around the red zone, the team moved the ball down the field as well as they have all season. A lot of that can be attributed to different guys getting looks, as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett had 16 completions to nine different players and seven different people carried the ball for the Steelers. Talking to CBS Sports’ Andrew Catalon after the game. Pickett talked about the balance in Pittsburgh’s offense.
“I think the balance was great. I think we had a great game plan coming in. We spread the ball out, guys stepped up on the outside and our running game was really good. So something that we gotta keep using and building on,” Pickett said via the CBS broadcast.
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson led the team in receptions with five, while tight end Pat Freiermuth had the most yards with 76. Outside of those two, nobody had more than two receptions for Pittsburgh, as running back Jaylen Warren caught two balls but Connor Heyward, Benny Snell Jr., Zach Gentry, Najee Harris, Derek Watt and George Pickens all finished with one reception. Heyward’s reception was a big one, as it was the Steelers’ only touchdown of the day and also the first of his young NFL career.
Pickett did a good job spreading the ball around and finding guys in space to make plays. Freiermuth had a 57-yard reception that set up Heyward’s touchdown catch, and Johnson was able to make some plays in space to pick up a first down. It was also another game without an interception for Pickett as he continues to show growth and development toward being a capable starting quarterback in the NFL.
The Steelers’ ground game has been their biggest surprise coming out of the bye, as Sunday was the fourth straight game the team ran for 100 yards on the ground. Running back Najee Harris led the charge with 86 yards, while Benny Snell Jr. had six carries for 24 yards, including a few successful first-down runs that helped the Steelers eventually move the chains. It was an impressive performance on the ground, and the Steelers’ run game is going to have to be something that they continue to lean on in the weeks ahead. The Falcons are a notoriously run-heavy team, and yet the Steelers were able to beat them in time of possession by 5:50. In a three-point game, those five-plus minutes matter a lot, and a big reason for Pittsburgh’s win in the possession battle has been their run game.
With back-to-back wins for the first time this season, the Steelers will look to build some real momentum when they take on the Baltimore Ravens, who might be without star quarterback Lamar Jackson, next week.