ATLANTA – With a perfect 3-0 record to close off the preseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers demonstrated their dominance on both sides of the ball while avoiding any significant player injuries. Particularly impressive was the first-team offense, which scored touchdowns on each of its five preseason possessions.
When the first-team offense faced the Atlanta Falcons, Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren both scored a touchdown run to cap off the two possessions. The Steelers finished their preseason on a high note with a 24-0 victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium thanks to this outstanding performance.
Kenny Pickett, who has been outstanding during the preseason, kept up his stellar play. He completed all four of his throws in this game for a total of 86 yards, laying the groundwork for the touchdown runs by Harris and Warren. Pickett had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the preseason after going 13 of 15 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Despite the Falcons not fielding their starting lineup, the Steelers were committed to giving it their all. Pickett’s connection with Diontae Johnson for a 33-yard gain and a 35-yard pass to Pickens helped set up Harris’ touchdown drive, which culminated in a 92-yard drive that featured a spectacular catch by George Pickens.
Even with top player T.J. Watt receiving little action, the Steelers’ defense was able to restrict the Falcons’ offense and result in a three-and-out. The special teams, headed by Calvin Austin III’s 21-yard punt return, gave Pickett and the offense great field position so they could score again. Following a screen pass from Pickett to Harris for a 16-yard gain, Warren’s 1-yard touchdown run made the score 14-0.
The Steelers’ offense, defense and special teams have all cooperated well in preseason, displaying a well-rounded team effort. Alex Highsmith, a linebacker, summed it up thus: “That’s how it’s meant to work. Our goal is to stop them so that the offense can gain advantageous field position. The offense goes down there and scores by doing what it does. Overall, all three phases performed well, therefore it was a team victory.
Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Steelers, elected to play the second unit after being pleased with the performance of the first team. They didn’t let us down; Mitch Trubisky led two touchdown drives and the defense forced yet another three-and-out. Chris Boswell kicked a field goal from 38 yards out on the first attempt and Anthony McFarland scored a touchdown from 5 yards out on the second attempt to make the score 24-0.
By that point, the Steelers had outgained the Falcons 220-8 overall, dominating Atlanta 253-55 in the first half in terms of total yards.
The Steelers’ defense remained strong despite the Falcons being able to put together a sustained drive in the second half. At the Pittsburgh 5, linebacker Mark Robinson and cornerback Joey Porter Jr. forced a turnover, which safety Kenny Robinson recovered, maintaining the shutout.
T.J. Watt, Elandon Roberts, Toby Ndukwe, Quincy Roche and rookie Nick Herbig all recorded sacks for the Steelers during the preseason. During the preseason, Herbig in particular showed out with a team-best 3.5 sacks, while Roche’s sack resulted in a fumble that the Steelers recovered just before the two-minute warning.
With 175 yards gained on the ground, the Steelers’ ground attack was also a force to be reckoned with. Anthony McFarland led the way with 10 carries for 55 yards, including a 31-yard highlight-reel run.
In conclusion, the Pittsburgh Steelers finished the preseason with a perfect record and a convincing win over the Atlanta Falcons. Fans are excited for the upcoming 2023 season after the club showed strength on offense, defense and special teams.