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Saints stop Steelers 20-10

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Drew Brees went downright surgical on the Steelers secondary in the second half, leading the Saints to a 20 to 10 win over Pittsburgh on Halloween night in New Orleans. In one of the best games in the NFL this season, the last two Super Bowl champions put on a bone-crunching display at the Super Dome with Brees carrying a Saints offense that was held to just 30 yards on the ground.

Saints 20 - Steelers 10

The Steelers defense hit hard and forced turnovers, but could not contain QB Drew Brees, who registered only two incompletions in the second half. Offensively, the Steelers struggled, falling under the weight of a failed opportunity at a touchdown in the first half and a costly fumble by TE Heath Miller in the fourth quarter.

GAME FLOW

Neither offense was able to move the ball in a scoreless first quarter, though the stage was set for the game’s first points with a 38-yard punt return by rookie Emmanuel Sanders on the second-to-last play before the teams switched sides. Pittsburgh drove into the redzone but had a touchdown overturned by replay, setting up a first-and-goal from the one-yard line. The Steelers offense failed to put the ball in the endzone, though, and settled for a 19-yard Jeff Reed field goal and a 3-0 lead. Three drives later, Pittsburgh’s defense came away with a turnover in the form of an interception by CB Ike Taylor. However, a holding penalty put Pittsburgh behind the chains and the team came up empty after Reed missed a 51-yard field goal. New Orleans used that great field position to launch a drive of its own, resulting in a 31-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley and a 3-3 tie at halftime.

New Orleans received the ball after the half and took its second-straight trip into the redzone, but again settled for a field goal, this time from 23 yards away. Pittsburgh failed to convert a fourth-and-four on the next drive and the Saints took one more trip into the redzone. The third time was the charm as Drew Brees hit WR Marques Colston for a 16-yard score and a 13-3 lead.

On the ensuing drive, Pittsburgh passed to set up the run with that run being a 38-yard touchdown dash by RB Rashard Mendenhall, pulling the Steelers back within three. Pittsburgh looked to have all the momentum, coming away with a fumble forced by CB Bryant McFadden on the very next drive, but TE Heath Miller gave it right back on a fumble of his own. From there, it was all New Orleans. An eight-yard touchdown from Brees to WR Lance Moore followed by an interception by CB Leigh Torrence gave the defending champs the win and sent Pittsburgh home as losers.

OFFENSE

On the ground:
Rashard Mendenhall registered the offense’s only touchdown and finished with 71 yards on 15 carries, though more than half of that total came on the one touchdown play. Isaac Redman contributed three carries for 19 yards and converted his only short-yardage attempt. Mewelde Moore added two more runs for another 19 yards.

Through the air: Ben Roethlisberger struggled to find rhythm despite the Saints missing their top three corners. He finished 17-of-28 for 195 yards with one interception. Mike Wallace led all Pittsburgh receivers with three catches for 43 yards. Heath Miller posted 39 yards on two catches, but lost a key fumble late in the game. Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward also had three catches each, but combined for just 48 yards.

DEFENSE

Pittsburgh held New Orleans to just three points before halftime and just 30 rushing yards in the entire game, but did not have an answer for QB Drew Brees in the second half. Brees finished 34-of-44 for over 300 yards, though only two of those incompletions came after halftime. The defense did come away with two turnovers, an interception by Ike Taylor and a sack-fumble by Bryant McFadden. LaMarr Woodley came up with the ball on the fumble. James Harrison registered one of the team’s two sacks, with the other going to McFadden. As usual, Lawrence Timmons led the team with 12 total tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jeff Reed only had two chances at field goals this game, hitting from 19 yards and missing a 51-yarder. Daniel Sepulveda booted four punts for an average of 48 yards. Rookie Emmanuel Sanders averaged 32.7 yards on three kickoffs and set up a scoring chance with an early 38-yard punt return, but also put the ball on the ground for the second-straight week (the fumble was recovered by Pittsburgh).

GAME BALL

Overall, the award goes to the Saints Drew Brees. For the Steelers, Bryant McFadden and Lawrence Timmons will share the ball. McFadden’s sack-fumble in the fourth quarter looked like the turning point in a close game. Timmons, of course, led the team in tackles and was flying to the ball all night long.

NEXT UP

Pittsburgh finishes its three-game road trip with its second-straight primetime game, traveling to Cincinnati to take on the struggling Bengals. That matchup will take place on ESPN’s Monday Night Football at 8:30 PM.

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