ATLANTA — Matthew Wright hit four field goals, as the Pittsburgh Steelers did just enough to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 19-16 and win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Steelers moved the ball up and down the field as well as they have all season, but fell apart in the red zone, forcing the offense to settle for four field goal attempts.
Wright, replacing the injured Chris Boswell, crucially hit all four, providing the narrow margin of victory.
Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Marcus Mariota on the final Atlanta drive to seal the victory.
The Steelers had three possessions of over seven minutes, both of which ended in Wright field goals. That included the game’s opening drive.
Wright hit one field goal in the first quarter and another early in the second to make it 6-0 Steelers. Atlanta answered with a Younghoe Koo 50-yarder to make it 6-3.
Then the Steelers offense had their only explosive drive of the game. Kenny Pickett hit Pat Freiermuth, who broke a tackle and ran up the left sideline for 57 yards, the longest offensive play of the season for the Steelers.
On the next play, Pickett found Connor Heyward up the seam for a 17-yard touchdown, the first for the rookie tight end coming in his hometown.
The teams traded field goals again before the half, with the Steelers leading 16-6.
In the third quarter, the Steelers had a 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 10:11 off the clock, but again had to settle for a field goal to make it 19-6.
But the field goals came back to haunt them when Atlanta re-discovered its running game. Cordarrelle Patterson had four carries for two yards in the middle of the third quarter, but took off after that. He finished with 60 yards on 11 carries.
Mariota found MyCole Pruitt for a seven-yard play action touchdown to cut the Steelers lead to one score.
The Falcons threatened to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Steelers defense held after a first and goal at the 10, aided by two Atlanta penalties. The Falcons chose to kick a field goal to cut it to a three-point deficit.
But the Steelers offense bled away almost all of the clock. Najee Harris ran 17 times for 86 yards and Benny Snell Jr. chipped in six for 24 as the Steelers ran for 154 yards as a team.
The Steelers punted the ball back to Atlanta with under a minute to play, with Pressley Harvin’s punt getting downed inside the five. Fitzpatrick intercepted Mariota on the first offensive play.
Pickett finished 16 of 28 for 197 yards and one touchdown. His passer rating was a career high of 90.9.
Pittsburgh, now 5-7, have won two straight games for the first time this season. Next week, they return home to face the Baltimore Ravens.