All three phases working: The Steelers stacked back-to-back wins for the first time this season, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 19-16, at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Coach Mike Tomlin said it took all three phases to pull out the win, one that improved the team's record to 5-7.
"Two road victories in a row. Was much needed trying to find that rhythm and do what good teams do, which is stack winning performance on top of winning performance," said Tomlin. "That's the first time we've done it this year and can't underscore that if you're going to be somebody to be considered and taken seriously, you got to stack wins. Hopefully it's a launching pad for us as we move forward.
"Not perfect today, but I just thought we did what was required, particularly our big boys up front and Najee (Harris). I just thought they controlled the line of scrimmage, minimize negativity because we stayed on schedule.
"I thought our guys collectively did not blink They made the necessary plays down the stretch to secure victory. It's just good to get contributions from all three phase in the weighty moments to secure victory."
Harris finished with 17 carries for 86 yards, playing a strong game after being held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and then being limited on Friday, with an oblique injury. Tomlin said Harris wanted to practice, but he held him out to protect him and save him for a game where he was needed.
"It was more of me holding him back than anything," said Tomlin. "I knew that it was going to be this type of football game We were going to have to ride the wave that he and the men up front provided, it was no secret. We talked openly about it all week. They embrace that challenge and they delivered."
One thing that did concern Tomlin was not being able to get into the end zone enough, with Matthew Wright called upon for four field goals and just one touchdown.
"We settled for field goals some and so that's always concerning," said Tomlin. "There's always going to be things to work on after games. I prefer to do that with the 'W' as opposed to an 'L' and so we'll work."
An emotional day: Sunday was an emotional day for Cameron and Connor Heyward, starting early in the morning when they visited the grave of their father, former University of Pittsburgh and NFL standout Craig 'Ironhead' Heyward, who died in 2006 of brain cancer at age 39.
The emotion continued in game, when Connor scored his first NFL touchdown on a 17-yard pass from Kenny Pickett.
"If I can share a story, this morning, me and him went to my dad's grave and we got to share a moment there," said Cameron Heyward, who wore his father's Falcons jersey during his postgame interview. "And so, I was pretty emotional when he got the touchdown. I don't like to be Mr. Sappy, but that really hit me. Luckily, there wasn't a camera on me because I was a mess. It was one of those moments. Back home."
This was the second touchdown Connor scored at Mercedes Benz Stadium in the last two years, catching a touchdown in the Peach Bowl for Michigan State last year.
"This is where they had the Peach Bowl last year and he got his touchdown here," said Cameron Heyward. "I like to think God and my dad are always working together."
Stacking the wins: One of the strongest messages in the Steelers locker room leading up to Sunday's game against the Falcons was the importance of stacking wins.
And for the first time this season, the Steelers did just that.
The Steelers win over the Falcons, on the heels of a Monday night win over the Indianapolis Colts, gave them their first two-game winning streak of the season.
"It feels good," said Cameron Heyward. "I think for the past couple of weeks, we've been trying to get over that hump of stacking. Hopefully this is one of many more, when you put together wins, both on the road, that's very huge.
"It's long overdue. If we want to be a good team, you got to stack good performances We were able to do that. Hopefully it's one of many. But it comes down to prep, comes down to practicing, comes down to us executing."
Getting some momentum going is something that has the potential to be a launching point for the team, who still has five games remaining and want to finish strong.
"It can be. I hope it is," said Heyward. "I don't like to say we did everything right, because we didn't. But at the end of the day, we have more points than them."
One area Heyward gave huge props to was kickoff coverage. After giving up a long kickoff return against the Colts, a 89-yarder by Dallis Flowers, Falcons' returner Cordarrelle Patterson didn't have a return thanks to kicker Matthew Wright keeping the ball away from him
"One key that I want to just point out too is the kickoff coverage," said Heyward. "You're going against Cordarrelle Patterson. Matt Wright moved the ball around the field and didn't let them really get into a rhythm. And I thought that was very big because they get a lot of hidden yardage that way."
Finishing the drive: After another game in which the progress he's making was apparent, Kenny Pickett identified what's next on the agenda.
That would be finishing drives that reach the red zone.
The Steelers went 1-for-3 in that department today at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
They got away with it in what became a 19-16 victory over the Falcons, but Pickett knows that won't always be the case.
"That's just what we're missing right now, is being consistent with touchdowns in the red zone," Pickett insisted. "That's something we'll continue to work at. We've been working at it.
"We're close, but close could get us a loss in this kind of game. We gotta figure that out this week."
The one red zone opportunity the Steelers finished off in the end zone was memorable.
Pickett found rookie tight end Connor Heyward on first-and-15 from the Atlanta 17-yard line for a TD that gave the Steelers a 13-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
It was Heyward's first NFL touchdown.
But a previous opportunity was lost when Pickett overshot tight end Pat Freiermuth on second-and-11 from the Atlanta 28 early in the second (not the red zone, technically, but a missed shot on a drive that resulted in three rather than seven points).
Penalties for a false start and delay of game contributed to a drive that reached the Atlanta 14 in the third quarter ultimately producing a field goal rather than a TD.
"Connecting on the one to Pat, I gotta give him a better ball and put it on him," Pickett maintained. "And then the penalties, when we got backed up, obviously, hurt us in there. Those are two things that stuck out.
"I definitely need to put a better pass out there for Pat, he'd have scored there, as well."
Pickett finished 16-for-28 passing for 197 yards and the touchdown to Heyward.
The rookie quarterback avoided throwing an interception for the fourth consecutive game.
"Obviously, when I first got put in there against the Jets I didn't have a lot of reps to that point," Pickett said. "The more that I've been playing I feel a lot more comfortable, going through progressions, knowing how our guys get in and out of breaks with timing, stuff like that.
"Every week I feel like I'm getting better and better. I just want to continue to improve on the things I need to work on and then build on the positives."