Thoughts From The Pressbox

Daley Lolley files from Atlanta following the Steelers' 27-20 win over the Falcons.

After addressing the media at a makeshift podium in the tunnel under the Georgia Dome, Mike Tomlin walked into the Steelers' locker room and shouted to nobody in particular, "Bam. Don't even worry about showering. Let's get out of here."

To say Tomlin was a little fired up following his team's 27-20 victory over the Falcons would be an understatement. But his locker room declaration was also well on point.

It was a big and needed victory, but the Steelers had better be prepared to stay sweaty. There's still plenty of work to be done.

Pittsburgh's victory in Atlanta was significant in that it broke the string of 8-8 seasons. Even if the Steelers somehow manage to go out and lose their final two games, they'll be 9-7, which is tangible improvement.

But it's still not the improvement this team seeks. This team wants more. And, with wins in six of its past eight games, maybe more is possible.

"The first Super Bowl that we won (in 1995), we were a team that got hot at the right time," said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "We went out as a six seed and just played good football. That is what this league is all about. If you get hot and play your best football at the right time, then you are a dangerous football team. I don't know if we are there yet, but we got a win and we are happy about it."

It was a good team win, as the Steelers made strong plays in all three phases. But it wasn't perfect.

"We’ve got a gear that hasn’t been shown yet," said defensive end Cameron Heyward. "If we’re satisfied with this, then we’re in the wrong place. As a defense, we gave up some scrambles. The offense left some points out there. We can do a better job. We’re happy with the win, but we’re not satisfied."

* I thought Markus Wheaton played, by far, his best game on the road this season. Often times, he's looked like he's out of sync away from Heinz Field. But on this day, he was on the same page with Roethlisberger throughout.

Wheaton made some big catches in this one, including catching a pass that was well behind him on a crossing route.

"I caught it on the back of my leg," said Wheaton. "I don’t know how it stuck, but it did."

* Linebacker Jason Worilds said he had no idea why he was called for roughing the passer in the second quarter on a sack of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan that would have moved the Falcons well out of field goal range.

Instead, the Steelers were penalized on the play and the Falcons went in to score their first touchdown and cut Pittsburgh's lead to 13-7.

Tomlin refused to comment on the play, as did Worilds. But if that's a penalty, they should just make the sack illegal.

* The Steelers finish this season 5-3 on the road. The last time they were 5-3 on the road was in 2011. They had been 3-5 the past two years.

* Mike Mitchell said the Falcons attempted to run the same exact play as the Bengals did to hit the Steelers for an 81-yard TD pass last week. Mitchell said the attempt came in the third quarter with the Falcons backed up.

"Will Gay read it and played it perfectly," said Mitchell while in between plugging Gay for the Pro Bowl. "No posts today."

* The Falcons did hit the Steelers with a pair of catch-and-runs that went for 40-plus yards, but those are more acceptable - barely - then being beaten over the top.

* Tomlin said he held Marcus Gilbert out of this game because Mike Adams was the healthier player. This after Gilbert practiced all week and was listed as probable.

Keeping Adams in the lineup likely had as much to do with Atlanta's pass rush as anything. The Falcons got to Roethlisberger just one time and now have 16 total sacks.

* Gay has quietly put together a very solid season. He likely won't make the Pro Bowl. But it's hard to argue against a guy who has three interception returns for scores - which is a team record for a franchise that has employed some pretty good defensive backs over the years.

* The Steelers had better keep winning. Because judging by what's happening elsewhere in the division - particularly in Baltimore - they're not going to get any help.

The Ravens don't seemingly have any healthy cornerbacks. But it probably won't matter as, counting Sunday's game against Jacksonville, they face rookie QBs in three consecutive games after Houston lost Ryan Fitzpatrick Sunday and had to turn to Tom Savage. So unless Johnny Manziel plays himself out of the lineup - which is possible - the Ravens won't be challenged with that soft secondary.


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