Saints 20, Steelers 10: Beloved Roethlisberger Falls To Hated City Of New Orleans

As far as Steeler losses go, losing to the Saints in New Orleans is about as digestible as they come; the Saints have struggled lately but they’re still the defending champs playing at home, plus it’s a non-conference game for the Steelers, and New Orleans is just about the least hateable fanbase in sports. I was still rooting for Pittsburgh, obviously, but if Roethlisberger had thrown a game-winning TD pass then ran around throwing Metal horns at the Superdome faithful, I’m positive my friends and I would’ve shared another awkward, unspoken “Why are we rooting for this A-hole again?” moment.

That’s not to say the manner of the Steelers’ loss wasn’t extremely frustrating. Between a failed First-and-Goal from the .000001 yard line, a terrible offensive pass interference call on Hines Ward that led to a missed 50-yard field goal, and the fourth fumble of Heath Miller’s career coming on the Saints’ 34, the Steelers left enough points on the field to sow a self-sustaining points farm. After the jump, let’s throw some blame around (or just hold onto the blame and take another sack):

I am usually among the masses of Bruce Arians criticizers — as opposed to the sportswriters who dismiss the frequent legitimate Arians criticisms by saying the words “Super Bowl” then laughing at the uneducated masses while clinking their brandy goblets — but I don’t blame Arians for the Saints’ goal-line stand. The Steelers had the ball inside the 1 and ran it three straight plays, and failed to break the plane all three times — unless Arians’ blocking schemes involved linemen turning around and diving at Mendenahall’s knees, to me, that failed sequence is on the players, not the coaches.

I also can’t blame the defense for this one. The Steelers’ D held the Saints to just 3 first-half points, and even those came after a missed Jeff Reed field goal gave New Orleans the ball on their own 41, plus the defense created two enormous turnovers, one inside the Saints’ 40 and one when the Saints were well into field goal range. When the Steelers’ offense turns the ball over twice in the second half, goes 3-for-10 on 3rd Downs (and 0-1 on 4th Down), has the ball for just 26 minutes to the Saints’ offense’s 34, and can’t seem to do anything in the face of constant, predictable 3rd Down Saints blitzes except take a sack and say “Nice blitz guys, wish we could do something about that ever!”, the defense is more or less off the hook. See? Got some Arians blame in there after all.

Despite the 3-3 halftime score and the Steelers’ missed opportunities, it’s tough to argue that they deserved to win this game. Tight games with crazy breaks back and forth are the norm among contending teams in the NFL, and as fans we sometimes lose perspective by accepting every Steeler win as legitimate while looking at every loss with the mindset “if we only did this and this, that would’ve been a win too! We could be on a 35 game winning streak!” Unless we’re talking about the ’07 Patriots, even the league’s most dominant teams don’t win 12 or 13 convincing games; every season is full of toss-ups like the one Sunday night, and it’s gonna be up to the Steelers’ offense to resume pulling their weight to reciprocate the defense’s generosity.

Looking at the remainder of the Steelers’ schedule (and in doing so jinxing the crap out of them), a 6-3 finish seems extremely plausible, with 7 or 8 wins not out of the question. They just need to stay health–ahhh crap, Polamalu’s head exploded. Yup. Literally just exploded as I was typing that. What? Yes, I’m reacting to this unlikely tragedy by just typing dispassionate literal sentences about it. I don’t panic, I’m a certified emergency blogger.

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One Response to “Saints 20, Steelers 10: Beloved Roethlisberger Falls To Hated City Of New Orleans”

  1. NFL WEEK 8 RECAP: Raiders Win, Decapitate Dude Says:

    […] (My full Recap of the Steeler game can be read here.) […]

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