Report Card: Steelers 17, Falcons 13  


Report Card: Steelers 17, Falcons 13  

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Fred Vuich/AP
Pittsburgh Steelers Trey Williams (35) follows the block of Arthur Moats (55) after getting past Atlanta Falcons defenders Akeem King (25) and Duke Riley (42) to return the punt by punter Matt Bosher (5) for a touchdown in the third quarter of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)
  • Story Highlights
  • Matt Ryan had an efficient evening as he led the first-teamers on a 91-yard touchdown drive.
  • Takkarist McKinley made his debut.
  • The special teams collapsed as they had a punt blocked and gave up a punt return for a touchdown.

Here are the grades for the Falcons from their 17-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers before 48,809 fans on Sunday at Heinz Field:

Run offense:  Terron Ward continued to run hard. He had a 16-yard run that he bounced outside to the left. Ward ran with authority on a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle. Tight end Eric Saubert received a hands-to-the-face penalty. Brian Hill is finding his way in the NFL. Grade: B-plus  

Pass offense: Quarterback Matt Ryan was 4 of 6 for 57 yards. He marched the Falcons on a 10-play, 91-yard touchdown drive. Matt Schaub came in briefly before giving way to Matt Simms, who finished off the second drive. He had a dropped touchdown pass by Marvin Hall. Simms tossed a nice deep ball to the speedy Reggie Davis for a 44-yard gain in the second quarter. Deante Burton had a dropped for the second game in a row. Grade: A 

Run defense: The Steelers were without Le’Veon Bell, who’s holding out for $15 million per year. He’ll have to sign his franchise tag and settle for a meager $12 million this year likely after Labor Day. The reserves gave up too much yardage as the Steelers rallied on the ground. John Conner broke loose for an 19-yard gain and finished with 98 yards rushing. Grade: D-minus 

Pass defense: Takkarist Mckinley made his debut, but didn’t register a sack. There were no major meltdowns like the 99-yarder the Falcons gave up against Miami. Akeem King and Janor Jones received most of the third-team snaps. Jalen Collins received some fourth-quarter action. Cornerback Deji Olatoya had a pass interference call and he lined up in the neutral zone in the third quarter to eliminate a team sack. Jalen Collins played 12 snaps. Grade B  

Special teams:  Matt Bryant rebounded from a miss the opener to make both of his field goal attempts. Davis had a strong 32-yard kickoff off return. On the negative side, Nick Williams got clobbered on a punt return and the Falcons had a punt blocked right before halftime. Trey Williams scored on a 64-yard punt return after Burton whiffed on the tackle attempt. Grade F 

Coaching: The Falcons came out crisp offensively and defensive for the second game in a row. The offense promptly marched down the field and defense dictated the matter to the Steelers. The blocked punt was troubling even though it was the backups. The Falcons also had a player blocked into Bosher on another punt. After starting the game converting on 5 of 6 third downs, the Falcons were stymied on their next 11 third down plays, the next to last being an interception thrown by fourth-string quarterback Alex Torgersen. Grade B-plus  

Next up: In the first game in the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals at 7 p.m. Saturday.  

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley (98) warms up before of an NFL preseason football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright) Don Wright/AP
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