The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Atlanta in Week 13 looking for back-to-back wins for the first time all season. While Atlanta made it close late, the Steelers were able to hold on for the 19-16 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Pittsburgh opened the game with the ball, and RB Najee Harris ran for nine yards on the first two plays. On 3rd and 1, FB Derek Watt broke forward for four yards and a first down. A seven-yard gain on a completion to WR Diontae Johnson from QB Kenny Pickett set up 2nd and 3, but Pickett was hit from behind as he threw on 2nd and 3 and the ball fell harmlessly to the turf. On 3rd down, Pickett was able to find TE Pat Freiermuth who picked up 10 yards and a first down.
On 1st and 15, Pickett went down the field to WR Steven Sims, and while it was initially ruled a completion it was overturned on review. Pickett went to RB Jaylen Warren for a gain of seven on 2nd down, and the Freiermuth picked up the first again with a nine-yard gain. Pittsburgh would get another first down but the drive would stall out and Pittsburgh settled for a 46-yard Matthew Wright field goal. They took a 3-0 lead with 7:33 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers kicked off away from RB Cordarelle Patterson, and FB Keith Smith returned it 11 yards to the Atlanta 21. On first down, Atlanta got a first down on a completion to rookie WR Drake London, and Patterson picked up another first down later in the drive. After a holding penalty, Atlanta faced a 3rd and 15, and Atlanta got backed up another five yards by a false start on T Jake Matthews. QB Marcus Mariota was complete to WR Damiere Byrd, but just for a 12-yard gain as the Steelers’ defense was able to get off the field. Bradley Pinion’s punt was muffed by Sims, but he managed to recover at the Pittsburgh 14.
The Steelers picked up a first down on a five-yard run by Harris on 2nd and 1. A jet to Sims went for a first down later in the drive, and then Benny Snell Jr. had a successful first down run with a four-yard gain. A nine-yard completion to Johnson was good for another first down, and then Snell again came through with a six-yard run on first down on what would be the last play of the first quarter.
On the opening play of the second quarter, Harris ran for 13 yards and a first down. On 2nd and 11 two plays later, Pickett overthrew Freiermuth on a would-be touchdown. On 3rd down, Johnson dropped a pass that led to K Matthew Wright coming out. He hit his second 46-yarder of the game, and the Steelers took a 6-0 lead with 13:34 left in the first half.
The Falcons hit an explosive on the first play of the drive when RB Tyler Allgeier busted through for 20 yards. A few plays later, TE Parker Hesse gained 17 yards and a first down and then London got down to the Pittsburgh 22 on a 13-yard gain. A loss of three on first down was followed by a near-interception on 2nd and 13. On third down, Mariota was sacked by DL Cameron Heyward, but K Younghoe Koo nailed a 50-yard field goal to cut the Steelers’ lead to 6-3 with 9:15 left in the first half.
After a touchback, Pickett went deep to Johnson down the left sideline but his throw was incomplete. After a six-yard run by Harris, Freiermuth caught a pass and broke a tackle and picked up 57 yards. A false start against Kevin Dotson knocked the Steelers back five yards, but on the next play, TE Connor Heyward caught his first NFL touchdown on a 17-yard reception. Wright knocked through the extra point, and the Steelers took a 13-3 lead with 7:06 left in the first half.
London gained 37 yards on first down, but Atlanta wouldn’t pick up another first down. Koo nailed a 51-yard try though, and the Falcons took a 13-6 with 5:05 left in the first half.
On first down, the Steelers went downfield for 20 yards and a first down. Sims picked up six on a jet and then Warren gained five and a first down. The Steelers would get another first down on a six-yard completion to Harris down to the Atlanta 39 on the last play before the two-minute warning. That would be the Steelers’ last first down of the drive, as Sims was called for illegal contact on 3rd down and the Steelers had to settle for another field goal. Wright was good from 48 yards, and the Steelers took a 16-6 lead with 1:29 left in the first half.
The Falcons only picked up one first down, and the Steelers got the ball back on their 14 with three timeouts. The Steelers ran the ball with Harris for four yards, and then let the clock run out, and went into the half leading 16-6.
Atlanta started the second half with possession, but they couldn’t do anything on their opening drive and they punted it away to Pittsburgh. Harris ran for seven yards and four yards on the first two plays for a first down, and the Steelers put together a sustained drive. A 14-yard reception by Johnson was followed by a 14-yard run by Harris, and then two plays later Snell had an 11-yard reception and an extra 14 yards were tacked on due to a horsecollar penalty.
At the Atlanta 14, Johnson was flagged for a false start, and the offense fell apart from there. A two-yard run was followed by an incomplete pass and a delay of game, and on 3rd and 18, Pickett dumped it off to Warren for seven yards. Wright’s fourth field goal try of the day was good from 33 yards, and the Steelers took a 19-6 lead with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
Atlanta put together a strong drive, running for 9, 7, 11 and 22 yards on their first four plays. They got inside the red zone after a defensive holding by DL Montravius Adams, and two plays later Mariota threw a touchdown pass to TE MyCole Pruitt. Atlanta cut the Steelers’ lead to 19-13 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, on 3rd and 8, Johnson appeared to have fumbled and it was recovered by the Falcons. Upon further review though, the fumble was overturned and it was ruled an incomplete pass. P Pressley Harvin III’s punt traveled 47 yards to the Atlanta 26, which is where they took over.
The Falcons got a first down on an 11-yard completion to London, and then Allgeier ran for a first down on 3rd and 1. A few plays later, Atlanta converted on 4th and 1 and had a first down at the Pittsburgh 34. On 3rd and 1 from the Pittsburgh 25, Mariota went over the top to TE Anthony Firkser for 15 yards and a first down at the Pittsburgh 10. A holding penalty wiped out a Patterson touchdown, so Atlanta faced 1st and Goal from the 20. On 2nd and Goal from the 25 after another Falcons penalty, Mariota connected with London for a 12-yard gain to make it 3rd and Goal from the Pittsburgh 10. Mariota was incomplete, and the Falcons settled for a Koo field goal. He was good from 28, and the Steelers narrowly hung on to a 19-16 lead.
With 5:27 left in the game, Pickett hit TE Zack Gentry for eight yards on first down. Harris picked up a first down on the next play and then ran for another seven yards on first down. Snell then came in and picked up six yards on the ground for another first down to the Pittsburgh 49-yard line. Two plays later out of the two-minute warning, Johnson picked up 10 yards and a first down on a catch and the Falcons had to burn a timeout. With 1:40 to go, Atlanta took their last timeout with the Steelers facing 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 34. On 3rd down, the Steelers ran a bootleg with Pickett that went nowhere, but he slid in-bounds. Instead of risking a 53-yard field goal with Wright, the Steelers brought out their punt unit. Harvin unleashed a near-perfect punt, and it was downed at the two-yard line.
On the first play from the two-yard line, Mariota’s pass was intercepted by S Minkah Fitzpatrick, and the Steelers kneeled out the clock for the win.
The win moves Pittsburgh to 5-7 heading into a Week 14 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens at Acrisure Stadium.