The Steelers had by far their best outing of the season this past Sunday - sticking it to Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. The Steelers racked up the score in a comfortable 41-17 win, while managing to impress on both sides of the ball. Here are my winners and losers from Pittsburgh's blowout win over the Falcons.
After a quiet past three weeks, Watt was by far the most impressive defensive player for either team in this one - racking up 8 tackles, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a handful of pressures. Watt flashed greatness and once again gave hope to Steelers fans that they may have a rising star on the defensive side of the ball.
It was a week of hype surrounding the possible looming return of Le'Veon Bell, but fans quickly put this chatter to rest. Conner was phenomenal in this game - blowing through the Falcons defense for 110 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards per pop. He also added 75 yards through the air (18.8 yards per catch). Conner had a quite past few weeks, and wasn't utilized much in the run game, but he looked like a legitimate bell-cow back in this contest.
Steelers fans were all but calling for the lynching of Butler in games past, but the Steelers defensive coordinator called a great game in this one. He constantly brought the heat and got Matt Ryan uncomfortable in the pocket. He deserves a lot of credit for the defensive success in this one.
Normally assigned with covering the left side of the field, Haden's assignment in this one was to lock down star wide out, Julio Jones - and that is what he did. Through the first three quarters, Joe Haden pitched a shutout, and helped pave the way for the Steelers best defensive performance of the season.
Dirty Red filled in for Vince Williams who sat out of this contest with a hamstring, and the third-year linebacker was pretty impressive. though he did give up a sizable catch trying to run with wide receiver Calvin Ridley, he played a very solid game overall. Matakevich was good against the run, took good angles to the ball, and like always, performed well on special teams.
Brown was off to another rocky start early in this contest, but really turned it around in the second half - finishing with 6 catches for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. He and Big Ben finally look to be on the same page.
Ben had several drives that stalled early, made a poor decision by throwing a pick in his own end-zone, and had some erred passes. However, his performance made a drastic turnaround in the second half. Big Ben and his offense racked up 28 points in quarters three through four, and led the Steelers to their first comfortable win of the season.
The Steelers offensive coordinator deserves a good bit of credit in this one. He was much more balanced than he was in the previous three games - running and passing the ball an even 29 times each in this contest. It was this balance to the offense that kept the defense on their heels and paved way for a massive 41-point game against the Falcons.
Bostic has been pretty good against the run this season, but on Sunday, everything was awful. He looked lost in the running game, and couldn't cover worth a lick. His counterpart in this one (Tyler Matakevich) grossly outplayed him, and it makes you wonder what the Steelers should do at the linebacker position moving forward.
Davis was up and down in this one (though mostly down). He looked like a rookie against the Falcons - taking some dreadful angles to the ball carrier and was caught out of position on more than one occasion.
The 'Ben to Brown' Connection
Yes, their chemistry seemed much better in the second half of this contest, but there are still some things that need ironed out. Normally very efficient targeting his star receiver, the 'Ben to Brown' connection has been anything but this season. Brown was 29 of 42 on targets prior to week 5, and was below 50 percent on Sunday - catching just 6 of 13. These two have got to get things back on track if the Steelers want to have a legitimate shot this season.