Coach Mike Tomlin preaches the importance of splash plays, both creating and stopping them.
And it was a splash play that got the Steelers back into the thick of things against the Falcons.
Running back Trey Williams, who like many young players is trying to open the coach's eyes, fielded a third quarter Matt Bosher punt and went up the middle, returning it 64 yards for a touchdown to cut the Falcons lead at the time to 13-10. Williams was named the Steelers Digest Player of the Week for his effort.
"He made a nice play," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "I think the interesting thing is you are talking about adding to your portfolio, what you are capable of doing. I thought he did a good job of judgment, decision making and fielding the ball today for a guy with very little experience in that area."
The Steelers came back in the fourth quarter, when Bart Houston engineered a seven-play, 53-yard go-ahead drive. Houston hit Sammie Coates for an eight-yard gain, and James Conner added carries of 17 and 19 yards. Houston hit Justin Hunter, who extended his body for a six-yard touchdown and 17-13 lead to secure the win.
The Falcons scored on their first three possessions of the game, all of them on drives of 10 plays or more.
They took an early lead when they marched down the field on 10 plays for 91 yards on their opening drive, culminating in a five-yard touchdown run by Terron Ward.
The Falcons extended the lead to 10-0 on Matt Bryant's 23-yard field goal, capping a 14-play, 76-yard drive.
Joshua Dobbs got the offense going on the Steelers next drive, thanks in part to a 24-yard pass interference call and a 23-yard completion to Martavis Bryant. A six-yard loss by Conner and an ineligible man downfield penalty were costly, but Conner's 11-yard run put Chris Boswell in position for a 42-yard field goal to cut the Falcons lead to 10-3.
The Falcons extended the lead to 13-3 on Matt Bryant's 26-yard field goal, a lead they took into the half, but saw vanish in the second half.
Getting work: With Ben Roethlisberger ruled out this week as a healthy scratch, and Landry Jones still on the road to recovery, rookie Joshua Dobbs got the start for the second straight week.
Dobbs played the entire first half and all but the final 31 seconds of the third quarter.
He finished the day completing 10 of 19 passes for 70 yards and one interception.
"I thought he did some things well," said Tomlin. "I thought he did some things he can improve on. We don't like the carelessness of the ball. There were a couple of instances where I would like to see him throw the ball away. It was a good learning experience for him."
He's back:** Martavis Bryant made his preseason debut against the Falcons, his first time seeing game action since the 2015 season. Bryant got extended work before the game, coming out on the field before pregame warmups to catch extra passes, a player who looked excited to be back.
Bryant played into the second half, and finished with two receptions for 20 yards, including a 23-yard grab from Dobbs on the Steelers first scoring drive.
Making his debut: James Conner got a warm welcome from the Heinz Field crowd on his first carry in a Steelers uniform, a three-yard run. Conner, one of the team's third round draft picks, missed last week's Giants game but returned to action in a stadium he is familiar with.
Conner came on strong late in the game, finishing with 20 carries for 98 yards, with 68 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter.
"I hadn't seen a lot of him. I wanted to get to know him," said Tomlin. "I thought he represented himself well, particularly from a conditioning standpoint. You can't underscore that element of that. I know he is a professional athlete, generally he is in shape, but he hadn't played a lot of football. To be able to execute the number of snaps he did is encouraging."
Tidbits: Some quick hits from today's game against the Falcons.
- Anthony Chickillo was active on defense, with two sacks for a loss of 19 yards, including a 13-yarder, and a total of four tackles on the day.
- Jordan Berry was called upon often, and had seven of his eight punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Greg Ducre made a key play when he kept Berry's sixth punt out of the end zone, batting it back where Colin Holba downed it at the four-yard line.
- Jordan Dangerfield had two interceptions. Dangerfield also added two tackles.
- Roosevelt Nix blocked Matt Bosher's punt just before halftime, but the Falcons recovered and the time ran out in the half.
- Steven Johnson left the game with a hamstring injury, while Javon Hargrave left with a concussion.
- Attendance was 48,809.
How they scored: A detailed look at today's scoring.
First Quarter: Steelers 0, Falcons 7
Scoring Play: Terron Ward five-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Drive: 10 plays, 91 yards, 4:37
Second Quarter: Steelers 0, Falcons 10
Scoring Play: Matt Bryant 23-yard field goal.
Scoring Drive: 14 plays, 76 yards, 6:52
Second Quarter: Steelers 3, Falcons 10
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 42-yard field goal.
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 54 yards, 4:22
Second Quarter: Steelers 3, Falcons 13
Scoring Play: Matt Bryant 26-yard field goal.
Scoring Drive: 13 plays, 77 yards, 6:50
Third Quarter: Steelers 10, Falcons 13
Scoring Play: Trey Williams 64-yard punt return.
Fourth Quarter: Steelers 17, Falcons 13
Scoring Play: Justin Hunter 6-yard touchdown pass from Bart Houston.
Scoring Drive: 7 plays, 53 yards, 4:18