Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast

7 Winners and 1 Loser after the Steelers 24-0 win over the Falcons

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Thursday for the 2023 preseason when they played the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3 of preseason action. The Steelers were winners in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.

Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game…

Winners

Kenny Pickett
Stat Line: 4/4, 86 yards, 21.5 ave., 0 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks, 118.8 Rating

Same story, different week. Pickett comes onto the field backed up in his own end, and drives the team down the field. He looks decisive, confident and in charge of the offense. The big throws to Diontae Johnson and George Pickens were things of beauty. Every drive he orchestrated this preseason resulted in a touchdown. Not sure how you can ask for anything more.

George Pickens
Stat Line: 1 rec., 35 yards, 35.0 ave., 0 TD, 35 long, 1 target

We didn’t get to see much of Pickens in the Week 2 game vs. the Buffalo Bills. But he made his presence felt vs. Atlanta early with a beautiful toe-tapping catch on the sideline to set the offense up at the 2-yard line. These are the kind of plays fans have seen from Pickens routinely, and to say people are excited about what he can do in 2023 is an understatement.

Diontae Johnson
Stat Line: 1 rec., 33 yards, 33.0 ave., 0 TD, 33 long, 1 target

Like Pickens, Johnson only had one target but made the most of it. On 3rd down Pickett put the ball beautifully into the breadbasket of Johnson down the left sideline for a huge gain. Johnson is still a valuable asset to the team, and has proven that throughout the preseason.

Running Backs
Stat Line: 40 carries, 175 yards, 4.4 ave., 3 TDs, 31 long

Last week you saw some padded running stats. Jaylen Warren’s 60+ yard touchdown run aided the numbers in a big way. As for this week, the offensive line got great push and the running production was very evenly distributed. Nothing noted this more than the top three backs, Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, and Anthony McFarland all hitting pay dirt.

Elandon Roberts
Stat Line: 3 tackles, 3 solo, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QB Hit

The Steelers held the Falcons to just 8 yards for the majority of the first half, and the fact the Falcons rested their starters was noticeable. Who else was noticeable was Elandon Roberts, who came through the line of scrimmage and was wreaking havoc in the backfield. Roberts gave fans a glimpse of what he’ll bring to the team this season.

Connor Heyward
Stat Line: 2 rec., 27 yards, 13.5 ave., 0 TD, 16 long, 2 targets / 4 carries, 11 yards, 2.8 ave., 0 TD

I didn’t have Connor Heyward getting that many carries in the backfield on my BINGO card, yet there we were watching No. 83 carrying the rock. Heyward was a running back early in his career at Michigan State, so it shouldn’t be surprising, but it also gives a glimpse into all he can do for the offense. Pay attention as roster cuts come, and how the Steelers view Heyward and how many spots he can fill just by himself.

Overall Depth
Stat Line: Evident across the board

Sure, the second half resulted in no points, but you can see the depth the Steelers have at key positions across the board. For the first time in a long time, trimming the roster from 90 to 53 will not be an easy task for the Steelers front office and coaching staff.


Losers

Lay Off
Stat Line: 17 days until Week 1

I really wanted to put the Atlanta Falcons’ play-by-play crew in the losers column, but decided to be a nice guy and not be super critical of preseason announcing. Nonetheless, there are no real losers on the docket this week. Even Kendrick Green avoided the loser label, and now we just have to wait. This lay off is the biggest loser, but a necessary part of the process.


If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast in the player below where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!

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