- 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.