While the Pittsburgh Steelers were declared “back” by many of the media experts after last weeks big win over the Chiefs, this week they ran themselves right out of a win in Atlanta as the Falcons beat the Steelers 41-38 at the Georgia Dome. Ben Roethlisberger left the game in the third quarter with a concussion, and with it his big day against the Falcons offense went with it. Charlie Batch came in and played well, but the defense could not stop Michael Vick and his legs and with it the hopes of getting back to .500 went down the drain.
Roethlisberger left the contest going 16-for-22 for 238 yards and three touchdowns. He was on target most of the day, and despite a fumble that resulted in Falcons points, it looked as if Big Ben was back and in full form once again. The problem with the Steelers on this fall afternoon was the fact that again on the road, the Steelers could not run the ball effectively (55 yards) and their defense cracked on a key third down in OT when they needed it the most.
The key play in the game happened in OT with the Falcons with the ball and driving. From their own 45-yard line on a 3rd-and-9, Vick pulled his magician act and escaped a tackle from safety Troy Polamalu. Running and looking to throw, Vick found his favorite target on the day, TE Algee Crumpler, and hit him with a floater that got the Falcons to the Pitt 29. The 26-yard play was a great play by Vick, and one that makes Vick still a very dangerous quarterback in a league that too many QB’s are statues in the pocket that simply cannot improvise.
Five plays later Morten Anderson, the leagues oldest player, hit an easy 32-yard-field goal that gave the Falcons the OT win. Atlanta, after a week in which they were scolded up and down the sports talk and newspaper dial for all their mistakes, needed the win to renew the fact that they are a solid team in the NFC South. It is a much bigger loss for the Steelers, who with a win would have gotten back to .500 at 3-3 and been eyeing a 4-3 record after a game in Oakland next week. Plus with Ben’s injury and the Bengals home win over the Panthers, it makes this even a bigger loss. Now back to the drawing board for Cowher and his troops to see if they once again can respond to the critics that will be all over them again this week.