Steelers Keep Falcons Grounded, 45-17 : Pro football: Pittsburgh turns four turnovers by Hebert into 24 points. Foster scores three touchdowns.
This was supposed to be the night the Atlanta Falcons ended their futility. It didn’t happen. In fact, it wasn’t even close.
Neil O’Donnell, Barry Foster and a fierce Pittsburgh defense beat the hapless Falcons, 45-17, for their fourth loss of the season.
The Steelers (2-2) converted four Bobby Hebert turnovers into three touchdowns and a field goal as Pittsburgh ended a string of eight losses by AFC teams at Atlanta.
The Falcons finished with six turnovers to Pittsburgh’s one.
“We didn’t do much right,” Falcon Coach Jerry Glanville said.
Cornerback Rod Woodson led Pittsburgh with two interceptions. He also had a 30-yard punt return.
About two-thirds of the crowd of 65,477 had left the Georgia Dome when the Steelers took a 41-17 lead two minutes into the final quarter. They even began a chant normally heard a mile away--the Indian war chant of the baseball Braves.
“Anybody who’s 0-4 is disheartened and disappointed,” Glanville said.
“We’ve gotten ourselves into a deep dark hole, and you have to do what it takes to crawl out of it. It’s a test for me, and I’m ready to be tested.”
The loss is certain to intensify calls for Glanville’s firing, but team president Taylor Smith said earlier Monday that he has no intention of changing coaches.
O’Donnell, who completed 19 of 25 passes for 259 yards, threw scoring passes of four yards to Dwight Stone and seven yards to Yancey Thigpen.
Foster had the first three-touchdown game of his career, scoring on runs of 30, seven and one yard. He had 65 yards on 20 carries.
Kenny Davidson put the finishing touch on the rout when he scooped up Hebert’s fumble and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown two minutes into the final quarter.
The Steelers also got a 21-yard field goal from Gary Anderson 50 seconds before halftime after Gerald Williams deflected an Hebert pass that Kevin Henry intercepted on the Atlanta seven.
A 97-yard kickoff return by Tony Smith had given the Falcons a 7-7 tie four minutes into the game. Atlanta took a 14-7 lead later in the period when Vinnie Clark scooped up Foster’s fumble, going 46 yards to the end zone.
In their last three Monday night games, all in the Georgia Dome, the Falcons have been outscored, 127-37.
“It was a good win, especially against a team in a had-to-win situation,” Steeler Coach Bill Cowher said. “Our players responded. Our players were determined and focused.
“We had some rhythm going,” he said. “Once you get rhythm going, it comes easy.”