ATLANTA -- There were a couple of ominous developments through the first 25 minutes of football at the Georgia Dome, strong signs the Pittsburgh Steelers might be headed for another bad loss in a season that has had too many of them.
New Orleans, anyone?
A bad call negated a Jason Worilds sack that would have left the Falcons with third-and-Augusta in the second quarter. The Steelers could not overcome the call that went against them and three plays later Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester that chopped a 13-0 Steelers lead in half with 4:19 left in the second quarter.
Curse of the wretched NFC South, anyone?
Just when it looked like the NFL's worst division in football might end up haunting the Steelers' eighth season under coach Mike Tomlin, the offense put together one of its timeliest drives of the season.
"It was big," Tomlin said after the Steelers' 27-20 win against the Falcons. "I feel comfortable when we're in our two-minute [offense] particularly before the half. We've had a lot of success with it. It was significant to get the seven [points] as opposed to the three."
The Steelers got seven because they were efficient and methodical, twice converting on third down while patiently taking what the Falcons gave them to move inside Atlanta's 30-yard line.
Antonio Brown then struck, hauling in a 28-yard pass along the Steelers' sidelines that was ruled an incomplete pass.
Replays, however, showed Brown tapping his left foot before his momentum carried him out of bounds. It proved to be an easy challenge for Tomlin, who said Brown is the "best in the world" at getting both feet down while making difficult sideline catches.
The Steelers won the challenge, putting the ball at the 1-yard line, and then they fooled the Falcons. Atlanta expected Pittsburgh to run a counter trap to the left, but the Steelers instead ran Bell right at the Falcons.
"It's so big for an offense to answer an opponent's score," Roethlisberger said. "A field goal you'll take but you'd like to get seven because momentum starts to shift because momentum is huge in this game."