ATLANTA – Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't throw for a touchdown against the Falcons, wide receiver Antonio Brown didn't catch a pass in the end zone, and running back Le'Veon Bell averaged just 2.4 yards per carry.
But the only numbers that mattered to The Big Three and to everyone else in the visitor's locker room at the Georgia Dome were Steelers 27, Falcons 20.
"Whatever it takes to win," Roethlisberger said after the Steelers won for the ninth time in 14 games. "You know me, I don't care about stats. All I want to do is win a football game.
"I'm sure Le'Veon doesn't care if he gets 100 yards or not; A.B., touchdown, no touchdown. That's what makes this team what it is. We just want to win the football game by any means necessary."
The Steelers beat the Falcons with a three-phase effort – wide receiver/NFL record-setting return man Devin Hester had one punt return for 7 yards – which made the win as satisfying as it was significant.
"The biggest thing you hear Coach Tomlin talking about is all of us working in concert and complementing each other," linebacker Arthur Moats said. "A game like this, the special teams came with big plays. The defense came with stops when we needed them. The offense came with big plays when we needed them.
"When we're clicking like that, we're a very good team."
SIX TIMES THREE**: Cornerback William Gay didn't have much to say about his Steelers-record third interception return for a touchdown this season.
"I'm just glad we got the win," he insisted. "That was a big win against a division leader. That's something you try to get in December football. We're trying to win each game (remaining) because that's what it's going to take."
Strong safety Troy Polamalu was more impressed by Gay's play than Gay.
"He's had a tremendous year to this point, and he had a tremendous game in this game," Polamalu said. "He's going to need to continue to make plays like that if we're going to get where we need to go."
GETTING BETTER: The defense gave up two more big plays, a 46-yard hookup between quarterback Matt Ryan and Hester and a 41-yard Ryan connection to wide receiver Harry Douglas.
But there was a difference this time.
"These big plays were really underneath throws where they were able to get out and run and then we had to tackle them," free safety Mike Mitchell said. "The ball wasn't going over our heads in the air, which was the big correction we had to make. We just have to rally a little better on some of those screens."
Mitchell said the Falcons tried the same route combination on which the Steelers got burned for an 81-yard touchdown on a post pattern by wide receiver A.J. Green in Cincinnati.
The Steelers had it properly covered this time, Mitchell said, and Ryan didn't throw the ball deep on that third-quarter occurrence.
"They watch film, too," Mitchell said of the Falcons. "They came back with the exact same play. It's funny because they should know we're going to try to correct our mistakes from week to week. I'm sure the next week's team (the Kansas City Chiefs) will try it, too."
SEALING THE DEAL**: The pass the Steelers threw to tight end Heath Miller on third-and-1 from the Atlanta 39-yard line just inside the two-minute warning resulted from a conversation Roethlisberger had with offensive coordinator Todd Haley during the break.
"He asked me what play I liked better; we had two options," Roethlisberger said. "I said I liked the one we went with. We anticipated them to really (try to) stop the run on third-and-1. We had a good play, and I got outside the pocket. I figured worst-case scenario I'd just go down and use up clock.
"But Heath's running open in the back, just get him the ball."
The completion went for 25 yards to the Atlanta 14-yard line.
Roethlisberger took a knee on consecutive snaps to close the game out from there.
THEY SAID IT
"We have a gear that hasn't even been shown yet. If we're satisfied with this, we're in the wrong place. We're happy with the win but we're not satisfied with it." – defensive end Cam Heyward.
"That puts a smile on my face when we all come together, offense, defense and special teams. That's what you want to see in a football game." – Gay.
"Steelers fans are everywhere, you know? It's always impressive to see, and it's a great feeling to finish the game with them standing, waving their Towels." – Miller.