After coming out slow in the second half with multiple three-and-outs to begin the half in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 11 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals and Week 12 win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers came out of the half with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a field goal to put the Steelers up 19-6. Running back Najee Harris told the media coming out of the half strong was an emphasis for Pittsburgh.
“That’s something we emphasized in halftime, coming out fast. Because the past couple games we did struggle coming out. So we wanted to emphasize on coming out second half, not be so flat, really fire off from the offensive line and what we do in the passing game, run game,” Harris said via a video posted to the team’s website.
After Atlanta punted following the opening drive of the second half, the Steelers got their first crack at it. They opened the drive with five straight runs, picking up two first downs on the ground and gaining 21 total yards on the five plays. The Steelers’ run game of Harris, along with Benny Snell Jr., was impressive throughout the day. Harris led the team with 17 carries for 86 yards, while Snell had six carries for 24 yards. Establishing the run early in the second half helped Pittsburgh get some momentum with some early first downs and set up the passing game. Later in the drive, quarterback Kenny Pickett and wide receiver Diontae Johnson connected for a gain of 14, and then later in the drive Pickett was able to hit Snell in the backfield for an 11-yard gain and a first down that had an extra 14 yards tacked on due to a horse collar penalty against Atlanta.
After two straight weeks where the offense was rolling in the first half and the third quarter turned into a string of three-and-outs, it was refreshing to see Pittsburgh take advantage and not only pick up a few first downs and score on the drive but also eat clock, burning 7:36 off the game clock and giving their defense an elongated rest after playing just one drive after halftime.
Even though the offense only managed to score one touchdown, they controlled the game possession-wise which surely helped the defense hold the Falcons to just 16 points. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was enough for the Steelers to get two straight wins for the first time all season and build momentum heading into a home matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.