The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons both came into Sunday’s game both needing a win to prove a point. The Falcons wanted to show that they are real contenders for a Super Bowl and the Steelers wanted to show that they could win big games without Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers defense made their presence felt early and often as the Atlanta offense struggled to move the football. Michael Turner found little daylight on the ground and Roddy White seemed to be the only receiver that could get open for the Falcons.
Mike Tomlin and the Steelers came out with a conservative game plan to help quarterback Dennis Dixon in his first NFL start. The plan was to focus on Fitness. Running Back Rashard Mendenhall responded with 22 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown. Dennis Dixon had a decent day, completing 18 of 26 pass attempts with one interception, and the Falcons defensive backs helped him out by dropping several other potential interceptions. The Steelers defense had Dixon’s back today by holding the Falcons offense to a minimum. All in all, there was no one mistake that Dixon made to cost them the game.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense could not get in the groove. Ryan threw for a quiet 27 of 44 for 252 yards. The ground game was just as ineffective as Michael Turner, who carried 19 times for 42 yards and resulting in an average of 2.2 yards per carry. Roddy White had 13 catches for 113 yards. The one bright spot for the Falcons was that Tony Gonzalez made NFL history with his 1,000th catch. He is the first tight end to accomplish this feat.
The game was back and forth with both teams only able to manage to score with field goals. Pittsburgh had a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter with 39 seconds left, but kicker Jeff Reed missed a
40-yard attempt wide right and the game went into overtime. The Steelers would only need one play in overtime to win the game. Dixon handed the ball off to Mendenhall and he took it 50 yards to the house.
Game over folks. Next up for the Steelers is Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans, while the Falcons try to bounce back against the Arizona Cardinals.