In the words of the great, the one of a kind, the one and only Bugs Bunny, "Ain't I a stinker?"
Yup. It was that kind of night. A stinker.
You just knew Drew Brees was not going to play another error filled game after being humiliated by the Browns last week. You just knew Gregg Williams wanted out LeBeau Dick LeBeau's defense. And yet, that was very unpleasant, wasn't it? The Saints played great. I expect that was exactly the game they wanted to play. Even so, there's plenty of blame to go around on the other black and gold squad.
Through a turgid first half and third quarter, Bruce Arians was completely befuddled by the Saints defense; despite the fact that they were sending all out blitzes on just about every play, he didn't adjust his calls until the 4th quarter. There's slow, there's obtuse, and then there's Bruce Arians.
The offense's inability to get in with a 1st and goal at the 1 yard line. Kudos to the Saints defense for a great stand there, but when you leave four points on the field like that, nine times out of ten, it's going to come back to bite you in the ass. [Of course, the Steelers D basically got those 4 points back when they put on their own amazing goal line stand denying the Saints with a 1st and goal at the 1 yard line, too.]
Pig Ben looked like ass through much of the first half; his throws were into the turf and/or way off target. He seemed to shake that off as the game went on, but he and Hines Ward have been playing together long enough that you'd think they'd have some hot reads down pat when defenses bring that kind of pressure; they didn't and that was perhaps the most discouraging element of last night's loss.
Coach Tomlin made a couple of strange decisions, the strangest of which was sending that moronic hayseed of a kicker in to attempt a 51 yard field goal late in the 2nd quarter. I knew Skippy was going to pull that kick, you knew Skippy was going to pull that kick, all 70,011 costume wearing, besotted spectators at the Superdome knew Skippy was going to pull that kick, so why didn't Tomlin? [Now seems like an appropriate time to mention that I have gone off the reservation in my loathing of Jeff Reed. His inability to hit anything but the chippiest of chip shots, combined with his short kick offs and palpable apathy on coverage units -- I can't even look at the guy anymore. Can they please start auditioning kickers today? Please?!] The end result was that the Saints got the ball at their own 41 and moved easily to get a field goal to close out the first half.
Emmanuel Sanders essentially broke up a perfect pass to Hines Ward which would have given the Steelers a huge 1st down. And it came on what seemed like one of the few perfect hot reads the Steelers made all night. Ouch. C'mon Rook. Get your head in the game.
There's lots of blame to go around, but even with all of the above and more that I haven't mentioned (like Brees playing Polamalu like a fiddle on one occasion), the game really comes down to the Heath Miller fumble.Everything was going the Steelers way. Rashard (no longer Suspect) Mendenhall, had ripped off a huge touchdown run to close the gap to 3 points. B-Mac caused a fumble on a corner blitz and the Steelers were driving for the go-ahead score. Then Miller coughed it up and the game was over because the Saints did what good teams do -- turned a great break into a touchdown. That was some kind of catch by Lance Moore. That he went up for it and held onto it with Troy and B-Mac crunching him (legally, mind you, in the torso area), was a spectacular play. You make plays like that, you deserve to win, as far as I'm concerned.
I think what's frustrating is that we know the Steelers are capable of playing better than that. Still, all hail the Saints, who played the game they needed to play, when they needed it most.