Sunday, September 12, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Steelers 15, Falcons 9
By James Walker
PITTSBURGH -- Let's take a quick look at the Steelers' 15-9 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
What it means: The Steelers can win without suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will be out for three more games. Pittsburgh made the Falcons play its tempo, which was an ugly field-position battle for four quarters and overtime. Finally, Rashard Mendenhall's 50-yard run in the extra period sealed the win.
What I liked: Pittsburgh's defense stepped up against a pretty good Atlanta offense. The defense looked more like the 2008 version with a healthy Troy Polamalu in the lineup. The front seven won most of the battles in the trenches and the pass rush bothered Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan enough to stall drives.
What I didn't like: Quarterback Dennis Dixon showed several flashes but still needs to work on reading coverages. Atlanta fooled Dixon several times. In addition to his one interception, he threw three other passes that could have been picked. Those drops could have changed the outcome of the game. To Dixon's credit, he did make several nice throws to receivers Hines Ward and Mike Wallace. He finished with a career-high 236 passing yards and an interception.
Injuries of note: There were two significant injuries to Pittsburgh starters. Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton suffered a hamstring injury and didn’t return after halftime. The severity is unknown, but if Hampton must miss time, Pittsburgh does have better depth on the defensive line this season. The ankle injury to left tackle Max Starks must be monitored. The Steelers lack quality depth on the offensive line, and Starks' injury looked painful.
What's next: The Steelers have a tough road game coming up against the Tennessee Titans, who pounded the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. This was considered the swing game by many on Pittsburgh's schedule during Roethlisberger's four-game suspension, but it won't be easy. Still, the Steelers have a great opportunity to start 2-0 without their best offensive player.