The Pittsburgh Steelers moved to 5-7 on the season with a 19-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Here were my thoughts on what I observed during the game.
-Major confidence boost for Kenny Pickett(16/28 197 TD) today. Letting him throw the ball after the two minute warning was a big step. As has been typical, he started pretty strong and waned a bit at different parts of the game. I thought his ability to read through his progressions was better today but his overall accuracy at times wasn’t quite there.
-The Steelers have to do better in the Red Zone. It’s that simple. You can beat Indy and Atlanta with some field goals but Baltimore? Cleveland? No, you need to score touchdowns.
-For a guy who went to the hospital less than a week ago, Najee Harris(17 rushes 86 yards) ran extremely well. He takes a tremendous pounding yet finds ways to keep moving forward.
-Both Jaylen Warren and Benny Snell had important snaps today. Whether carrying the ball, catching the ball or picking up the pass rush they both contributed positively.
-George Pickens is going to find himself few friends among Steelers Nation with an attitude like he displayed. “Throw me the fucking ball” he screamed in the second half. I get that he was frustrated but the outcome of the game is more important than his stat line. Do I like his competitive fire? Of course, but there’s a fine line between a player being competitive and a player being selfish.
-Diontae Johnson(5 rec. 60 yards) did a much better job today of getting positive yardage after his catches. His vital late game catch and first down were big too.
-Pat Freiermuth (3 rec. 76 yards) is now in that upper tier of top receiving tight ends. He’s not in Travis Kelce’s level but he’s playing extremely well.
-There were no designed plays for Zach Gentry today. I love me some Zach Gentry but he shouldn’t be having plays designed for him.
-Terrific route and catch by Connor Heyward who scored his first career TD.
-The offensive line is not one of the top units in the NFL but this group continues to improve week to week. The running game is definitely better while the pass protection is coming along. The fact that these guys have played together in all 12 games is a huge point of emphasis.
-T.J. Watt is struggling. He’s clearly not 100% and the rib injury to go along with his pec and knee are making things awful for him.
-Minkah Fitzpatrick… what a wily, veteran play to win the game. Even smarter to just stroll out of bounds and effectively end the game.
-The defense was very lucky today. Had Arthur Smith stuck to the run earlier in the game then Atlanta may have fared better. The second half run D was not good.
-Very quiet day from Alex Highsmith.
-Three of the top five tacklers were secondary guys. That always concerns me.
-Levi Wallace and Cam Sutton both had several nice plays covering the pass today.
-Arthur Maulet was extremely lucky not to get flagged for pass interference in the end zone. Had that throw been more catchable I think the flag would have come out.
-Excellent day for Matthew Wright. Four for four on his field goal attempts and he did a terrific job of kicking away from Cordarrelle Patterson.
-What a punt by Pressley Harvin III to pin the Falcons deep with no timeouts remaining. The next play was Minkah’s game-sealing INT.
-Can we please find a punt returner who can routinely catch the ball??
Next Week: The Baltimore Ravens come to Pittsburgh and they may be without the services of Lamar Jackson who left today’s game with a knee injury. How bad it is will determine whether he plays or not. The preliminary word is that it isn’t season ending but he could miss some time.