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Analyzing the Steelers preseason win over the Falcons, by the numbers

The Pittsburgh Steelers had their third and final contest in preparation for the 2023 season by leaving Atlanta with a 24–0 victory over the Falcons in Week 3 of the preseason. After putting forth a quality performance the first two weeks, the Steelers first team players came through in a big way yet again.

So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers preseason win over the Falcons.


More important than the Steelers +2 turnover ratio in this game was the fact they played a clean game for the first time this preseason and had no turnovers. The Steelers saw their turnovers decrease each game in the preseason all the way down to zero. Additionally, forcing two fumbles they were able to recover was a nice complement by the defense.


The game did not start off well in the penalty department as the Steelers were set up at their own 8-yard line after an illegal block on the opening kickoff. But the Steelers didn’t let the poor field position get them down, and they also did not let an early penalty set a trend as they were only flagged five times in the game. Throughout the preseason, the Steelers have kept their penalties under control as they only averaged 5.0 penalties per game with their highest being 6 the first week.


While the real number here would be two touchdown drives by the Steelers first team offense, it has to be noted that the Steelers primary group scored five touchdowns on five drives throughout the entire preseason. The Steelers had a variety of drives with their starting unit in this game with the first one being 92 yards and the second one only having to cover 29 yards after once again being set up with a nice punt return. Another new method of scoring also came forward with the first team as they scored twice from the red zone as they had not reached the red zone in either of the previous two games.


The Steelers were able to keep the Falcons off the scoreboard in the first half, marking the second-straight week where they were pitching a shutout at halftime. Matching last weeks performance by holding the shutout through the third quarter, the Steelers topped it off in their final preseason game by holding the shut out through all 60 minutes.


Although for the entire game the Steelers were 6 of 14 on third down conversion for a 43% rate, the first half saw the Steelers go 4 for 6 on third down for a 67% conversion rate. And in the two drives by the starting offense, the Steelers were only one for one on third downs as they were able to move the ball efficiently on first and second down.


The Steelers returned five points for 53 yards on Thursday night giving them a 10.3 yard punt return average. Aron Cruickshank had no return yards on his return while Calvin Austin averaged 13.3 yards on his four returns for 53 yards with a long of 21 yards. With CA3 deep to field punts, the Steelers punt return unit has the opportunity to go from a “please don’t screw it up” unit to a “lookout for a big play” unit.


The Steelers were able to successfully get to the quarterback five times in this game, their most this preseason. The Steelers had a sack early with T.J. Watt on the second defensive play of the game and the night ended with a Toby Ndukwe sack.


As mentioned before, the Steelers began their first drive of the game on the 8-yard line after the Mark Robinson penalty on the kick return. But the Steelers didn’t let that slow them down even when facing a third and five from their own 13 on the third play the game. With a 33-yard pass to Diontae Johnson and a 35-yard completion to George Pickens, the Steelers also saw some decent run plays sandwiched in between with Jaylen Warren going for 6 yards followed by Najee Harris running for 12 yards. In all, the Steelers moved 92 yards on 8 plays which was capped off by a Najee Harris 1-yard touchdown run and took 4:04 off the first quarter clock.


The Steelers had their best overall rushing performance of the preseason with 40 attempts for 175 yards and a 4.4 yard per carry (YPC) average. While Mitch Trubisky rushing for 24 yards on one carry was quite helpful, the top three running backs all averaged better than the team average with Najee Harris seeing a 4.5 YPC, Anthony McFarland going for 5.5 YPC, and Jaylen Warren rushing for 7.0 YPC.


With the Steelers leading 24–0 at halftime, there wasn’t any change to the scoreboard throughout the second half. But this domination in the first half was a trend throughout the preseason as the Steelers outscored their opponents 62–7 in the first half of their three preseason games.


Typically this spot is reserved for whether or not the Steelers put off the victory. Instead, the biggest thing coming from this game, other than no known significant injuries, is that the Steelers now have 17 days to rest up and prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium.

So there are some numbers to help put the Steelers Week 3 preseason win in perspective. The Steelers’ first units finished off a perfect preseason and are now ready for games that count in the standings.

So what numbers from Thursday night’s preseason game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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