The Pittsburgh Steelers just got spanked by the New Orleans Saints. There was nothing creepier about the Halloween weekend than watching them fall apart at the seams.
It was the first game Ben Roethlisberger lost since he returned from his suspension. Tight end Heath Miller had an uncharacteristic fumble during the fourth quarter. The Steelers defense let Drew Brees complete 20 passes in 22 attempts for 191 yards during the second half of the game. They weren't able to capitalize on turnovers. Ben was intercepted by cornerback Leigh Torrence at the very end of the game while they were trying to make a last-ditch attempt to even out a 10-point deficit. During the second quarter, running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman couldn't get into the endzone three times when they only had about 6 inches to go. That happened after Antwaan Randle El caught a pass and, even though the initial ruling was a touchdown, was overturned after further review. A tad reminiscent of the Miami Dolphins game from last week, wasn't it? Except the Steelers managed to win that one.
And the Saints won without running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Their best cornerbacks, Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, were out as well.
Hopefully Steelers fans had an otherwise enjoyable holiday weekend, because this game was really quite difficult to watch.
There goes all the talk about being the best team in the league. The Steelers proved everyone wrong. Luckily (sorta?) for them, this game is against an NFC opponent and not nearly as important as their next two games, the first against AFC North rival the Cincinnati Bengals (who, let's face it, are due for a win) and the always tough New England Patriots. And the Steelers always play better when they're the underdogs.
Perhaps this is the wake-up call they needed to show that they aren't invincible. That, even though they always seem find ways to win games, they had to get solidly beat just to keep their egos in check. Even though it most likely will, let's hope it never happens again.
After a terrible and embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns last week, Brees was able to get 34 completions, the most against the Steelers defense in eight years. The game was a battle of the defenses, and the Saints' defense triumphed.
Brees completed 34 for 44 and racked up 305 yards and 2 touchdown passes (16 yards to Marques Colston and 8 yards to Lance Moore). He also threw 1 interception. With two minutes left in the first half, Ike Taylor made leapt up to catch Brees' pass. The offense managed to get to the 23-yard line, but Hines Ward was penalized for offensive pass interference (yup). Jeff Reed then missed a 51-yard field goal.
That gave the Saints excellent field position, where they managed to tie up the game at 3-3 right before the half ended. During the third quarter, the Steelers only had possession of the ball once. As New Orleans was driving to score, right tackle Zach Strief was the intended receiver and was wide open in the endzone. But he couldn't jump high enough to grab the ball, which went flying over his head. They had to settle for a field goal, so the Saints began the fourth quarter with a 6-3 lead, and then everything went to hell (for the Steelers at least).
When the Steelers offense couldn't convert after going for it on 4th and 4, the Saints were again presented with great field position. They were able to score a touchdown, with the offense eating up the clock with a 10-play drive, making the score 13-3 with just 12:55 left. But then all hope wasn't lost, as Roethlisberger completed three passes, ending with Mendenhall's touchdown run.
Steelers fans even got more excited about winning when cornerback Bryant McFadden made Drew Brees drop the ball, and LaMarr Woodley recovered. But the most costly turnover for the Steelers came when Heath Miller, who made it all the way to the 32, collided with Marvin Mitchell, fumbled, and gave the ball back to the Saints.
Then the Saints scored another touchdown after a 55-yard drive. The interception with just 1 minute and 40 seconds to go was merely the icing on the huge loser cake of the night.
So many missed opportunities, and the Steelers defense just cannot give up those kinds of numbers during the last quarter. Even though the Steelers are #1 against the run, which they proved they deserved, they're ranked just #24 against the pass. Never a good thing when you're playing against a quarterback like Drew Brees.
On the offensive side for the Steelers, Ben went 17 for 28 for 195 yards and 1 interception. He ended with a pretty dismal 66.8 rating. He faced constant pressure all night and barely had time to throw. In the first three quarters, he passed for only 93 yards. Mendenhall scored the Steelers only touchdown with a huge 38-yard run. He ended up rushing for 71 yards total on 15 carries, and he too struggled during most of the game. Redman also had a couple of big plays and ended up carrying 3 times for 19 yards.
The Steelers again were able to contain the running game, though it helped that the Saints' best running backs weren't playing. Julius Jones ended up with just 16 yards on 7 carries. If only the defense could have limited Brees to those kinds of numbers...
However, not all was lost: Everyone in the Superdome dressed in costumes set a new world record. At least that's something the costume-clad Steelers fans who were most likely crying in their Iron Cities can cheer about. Is that any consolation to Steelers fans? Most likely not, but hey, it's nothing a sound beating of the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night can't fix.