NFL Analysis: Preseason Week 3 Steelers vs Falcons
As the preseason curtains come down, both teams gear up for the regular season matches, with the Steelers hosting the San Francisco 49ers and the Falcons preparing to welcome the Carolina Panthers. Kickoff is just around the corner, so remember to study properly BUSR’s NFL Lines.
Despite the Falcons’ decision to field their backups, Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin remained undeterred in his choice to play Kenny Pickett and the other Pittsburgh starters. Pickett, showcasing his readiness for the main season, led two touchdown drives. His outstanding gameplay ensured the Steelers, now 3-0, scored touchdowns in all five preseason possessions he directed.
Within his brief yet impactful time on the field, Pickett successfully completed 4 of 4 passes, accumulating 86 yards. His prowess was evident as he managed commendable 33-yard and 35-yard completions to Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, respectively, during the opening drive. Pickens’ exceptional catch, despite tight coverage from Falcons cornerback Natrone Brooks, underscored his talent and proved why he’s such a prized asset for the team.
The Steelers maintained their offensive onslaught, with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren adding touchdowns to the scoreboard. Notably, Atlanta’s backups were no match for Pittsburgh’s prime squad, causing the Falcons to be outmatched in most aspects of the game. Despite the evident disparity, Atlanta’s coach, Arthur Smith, expressed optimism heading into the regular season.
Atlanta witnessed its backups struggling against Pittsburgh’s robust first-team lineup. This was evident when T.J. Watt sacked backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke and linebacker Elandon Roberts tackled running back Godwin Igwebuike for a loss early in the game.
As Pittsburgh basked in their dominance, quarterback Mitch Trubisky took over from Pickett, and backup running back Anthony McFarland Jr. showcased his prowess, with runs that set up more scoring opportunities. The team’s supremacy was further highlighted when Pittsburgh executed their first punt with barely two minutes left in the half.
Atlanta’s Logan Woodside made a commendable effort, striving to earn his spot on the Falcons roster. His stats, completing 24 out of 31 passes and garnering 196 yards, were admirable, even though he was sacked on four occasions. The Falcons had a missed opportunity in the third quarter, with Carlos Washington Jr. fumbling, which Kenny Robinson of the Steelers promptly recovered.
The game’s statistics show the picture of the Steelers’ mastery. In the first half, they amassed 253 yards to Atlanta’s 55, including a 128-5 ground advantage. Totaling up, the Steelers culminated with 310-199 yards, highlighting their profound control of the game.
Atlanta’s roster had its share of discussions. Matthew Bergeron, the rookie left guard, was in uniform but didn’t participate, signaling his starting status. Following Matt Hennessey’s unfortunate season-ending knee injury, the debate around the Falcons’ offensive line has revolved around the ideal candidate for the swing tackle position.
Highs and Downs
The preseason also witnessed Kenny Pickett’s meteoric rise, posting an exceptional 158.3 passer rating, the highest this preseason. On the flip side, the Steelers’ defense, especially the linebacker unit, had some vulnerabilities. However, new starter Elandon Roberts exhibited tremendous promise with his standout performance against the Falcons.
Rookie Clark Phillips III, from Utah, is in the race for Atlanta’s starting slot cornerback position. He has showcased promise by allowing only two of his targets to be caught for a mere 13 yards, alongside making two defensive stops.
In the injury department, the Falcons experienced a setback with receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside suffering an apparent leg injury post a 14-yard catch in the second half. Meanwhile, the Steelers emerged relatively unscathed, with no significant injuries reported. Keep an eye on potential injuries as they can flip NFL Odds quickly.
In conclusion, as teams prep for the regular season, roster cuts and game strategies will be in the limelight. The preseason may not count in the official win-loss columns, but it’s pivotal in gauging a team’s depth, potential, and areas of improvement. For the Steelers, this undefeated preseason hints at an exciting season ahead.