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FINAL: Steelers preseason dominance continues in 24-0 win over the Falcons

The Pittsburgh Steelers were on the road for their third and final preseason game of 2023 when they went to Georgia to play the Atlanta Falcons. Mike Tomlin chose to use the game as a final dress rehearsal, but the Falcons had no interest in having their starters get injured and chose to rest their starters.

While some Steelers didn’t dress, Kenny Pickett and the starting offense took the field to start the game. Following a special teams penalty, the offense took over deep inside their own zone. That didn’t stop Pickett and the offense continuing to do what they’ve done all preseason.

Drive down the field and score.

How they did it was certainly notable. Pickett hit Diontae Johnson for a big gain on the offense’s first 3rd down attempt. After that, it was a balanced attack which resulted in a huge completion to George Pickens along the sideline to move the ball to the 2-yard line.

The next play it was Najee Harris punching it in for the touchdown.

The first Falcons drive was quarterbacked by Taylor Heinicke, and the drive didn’t last long. Elandon Roberts blew up the first play for a tackle for loss, T.J. Watt sacked Heinicke on second down, and the third down pass fell incomplete.

Calvin Austin III took the ensuing punt return 21-yards, setting up the offense just outside the red-zone. Following a 16-yard screen pass to Najee Harris, it was Jaylen Warren scoring from 8-yards out to give the Steelers a 14-0 lead in the blink of an eye for a second straight week.

Another Atlanta 3-and-out saw the ball back in Pittsburgh’s possession, but with a new offensive unit. Mitch Trubisky and the second team took over, and an Anthony McFarland Jr. run go the ball deep into Atlanta territory. Inside the red-zone, the drive stalled when Trubisky was sacked on 3rd-and-5. The Chris Boswell field goal made the score 17-0 with 1:26 left in the first quarter.

It wasn’t until the 2nd quarter when Atlanta got their first, first down. And even then, the drive didn’t equate in points.

Pittsburgh’s next drive wasn’t nearly as fast as those prior. Instead, it was a slow, methodical drive which was based around the running game and a few fortunate penalties against the Falcons. Nonetheless, a defensive pass interference call set up the Steelers inside the 5-yard line, and it was Anthony McFarland Jr. who plunged into the end-zone to cap off the 7-minute drive.

With both teams exchanging possessions, the 24-0 score held up heading into halftime.

The Falcons started the second half with the football, and they put together their best drive of the night. A good mixture of run and pass, Atlanta found their way in the red-zone for the first time on the night. But once they got into the red-zone, a fumble was recovered by the Steelers, their first takeaway of the night.

Pittsburgh was unable to turn the takeaway into points, and what ensued was well over a quarter, and then some, with neither team doing what was necessary to put points on the board. The lackluster second half looked as if it was going to end with the same score heading into halftime, 24-0, but Quincy Roche performed a beautiful strip-sack, giving the Steelers the ball with tremendous field position.

The turnover didn’t result in a touchdown, and Mike Tomlin didn’t even attempt one with the game clearly in hand. The 24-0 score would hold as the final.

The win keeps the Steelers a perfect 3-0 on the preseason, the second straight season with a 3-0 preseason record, and now begins the lengthy layoff before the San Francisco 49ers invade Acrisure Stadium in Week 1 of the 2023 regular season.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they trim their roster to 53 players, and get ready for the games which really count.


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