ATLANTA — A 16-play drive that ate up 9:21 of the fourth quarter clock resulted in only three points for Atlanta, a Steelers defensive stop that led to what coach Mike Tomlin said were good signs for Pittsburgh in all three facets of the game.
Mainly using the ground game, the Steelers moved the chains three times on the following series, running the time below a minute before Pressley Harvin’s near-perfect punt that pinned the Falcons on their own two-yard line.
“I thought our guys, collectively, did not blink,” Tomlin said. “They made the necessary plays down the stretch to secure victory — the stops, the earned first downs, the late punting down inside the red zone, and then Minkah closed it out. It’s just good to get contributions from all three phases in the weighty moments to secure victory.”
The stand on the hosts’ second-to-last drive preserved the lead as the Steelers stalled in the second half. An offensive holding infraction that nullified a 10-yard end-around score by Cordarelle Patterson came up big.
“They got a couple penalties that kind of put them behind the chains,” Tomlin said. “I’m not going to pretend like it was something that we did. Oftentimes, it’s not.”
After the ball was given back to Atlanta deep in the shadow of their own goalposts, Minkah Fitzpatrick picked Marcus Mariota off and stepped out of bounds to end matters. All in all, the performance down the stretch was just what the doctor ordered, especially as T.J. Watt was banged up. It was key in the Steelers winning their second contest in a row for the first time this go-round.
“We had to possess the ball some there,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, you’d like to possess it all the way out. We didn’t. We had a high-quality special teams play there with that punt and then the defensive play to finish it. Some good signs.”