PITTSBURGH, NOV. 4 -- Through their first four games, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not score an offensive touchdown and they were being written off as one of the season's biggest disappointments. After today's 21-9 victory over the mistake-prone Atlanta Falcons at Three Rivers Stadium, the Steelers are tied for first place in the AFC Central.
Bubby Brister threw second-half touchdown passes to Louis Lipps and Mike Mularkey as Pittsburgh's offense, shut out in the first half by the NFL's worst-rated defense, took advantage of three interceptions thrown by Chris Miller to overcome a 9-0 deficit.
Miller, the league's fifth-rated quarterback, threw his first interception in 116 attempts and 16 quarters on the final play of the first half.
The Pittsburgh defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in its last two games.
"We're back in first place and a lot of people probably didn't think we would be here," Brister said. "We've got to keep it going."
By winning for the fourth time in five games, the Steelers (5-4) tied for the AFC Central lead when the Cincinnati Bengals were upset, 21-7, by New Orleans.
The Falcons, who committed five turnovers, managed only three field goals despite advancing inside the Pittsburgh 35-yard line eight times. The Falcons had the ball inside the Pittsburgh 30 on their first six possessions, but their offense, averaging 28 points a game before today, was held without a touchdown for the first time this season.
"We were in tough situations all day and they easily could have had six points a few times in the first half," said Pittsburgh safety Larry Griffin. "We kept hitting them and hitting them hard, and that's what you have to do to force turnovers."
The Falcons had been 2-0 against AFC Central teams this season.
"This hurts; this hurts to the bone," said Atlanta Coach Jerry Glanville. "I don't think our team can play any harder. . . . I feel bad for our players, but you can't make that many turnovers in this league and expect to win."