Welcome to “Quick Yinzing”, a fast reaction article where a member of the SCU staff gives their initial post-game impressions without digging into any films, stats, or other analysis. It’s as real as that car ride home or sobering down at the bar following the game!
The Pittsburgh Steelers had already given the home crowd a bad showing in their loss to the Baltimore Ravens last week, so, facing another team with a bird mascot and losing would have been crushing. Instead, the Steelers went out and handed the Atlanta Falcons a 41-17 loss. The crowd at Heinz Field got a much better showing in Week 5, with the offense balancing the run and pass and the defense using pressure up front to relieve the linebackers and defensive backfield. It's what's been needed all season and finally came together to give the Steelers the win.
Just call Conner "Showtime"
Steelers running back James Conner got things rolling in the right direction in the opening drive for Pittsburgh and just kept rolling. Sunday was Conner's show as the second-year back carried the ball six times in the first offensive drive and capped it off with a one-yard touchdown dive. Conner got lit up by Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oloukun late in the game (penalty Atlanta); he shook off the hit and swept around the right end of the line for a two-yard touchdown. If the Steelers continue to get Stevan Ridley into the game to give Conner a breather here and there and keep utilizing the run to prevent heavy pressure from defenses, Conner - who showed he can catch and get free in open space - will alleviate the need for Ben Roethlisberger to enter every game expecting to out-throw opponents to win.
The sack attack is back
The Steelers defense was a drastic improvement on Sunday afternoon. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan wasn't given much breathing room and was sacked six times. T.J. Watt had three sacks, while L.J. Fort (1), Cameron Heyward (1.5), and Jon Bostic (0.5) added their own. Ryan was pressured consistently and that limited his ability to get receiver Julio Jones involved on a high level. That allowed Mike Hilton and a defensive backfield that looked re-tuned to play solid, on-key coverage. Artie Burns had a near interception ruled incomplete, but it helped summarize how much cleaner the backfield looked.
Watt's strip-sack of Ryan in the Falcons' end zone ended up in Fort's hands for a defensive touchdown that gave the Steelers their final and winning score with just over three minutes left in the game.
AB and Big Ben closer to being back in-sync
Over the course of the game, there continued to be times when Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown could not hook up. Roethlisberger tried to force one pass to Brown, who was blanketed in the end zone, that resulted in a jump-ball interception. The two were on the sideline talking afterward, though, getting JuJu Smith-Schuster (who had one receiving touchdown) involved in the conversation, and it led to Brown receiving two throws from Roethlisberger for touchdowns. By the end of the game, they look like they were much closer to being back to the days when they were arguably the best QB-WR duo in the NFL.
The Steelers move to 2-2-1 on the season with the win.