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Game Seven: Steelers own worst enemy in 20-10 loss in New Orleans

On a night where the Steelers could have clearly cemented themselves as the best team in the AFC and therefore the league, the club looked ordinary in losing to a not nearly as good as 2009 Saints team 20-10 to fall to 5-2 on the year.

The loss puts the team in a tie with Baltimore in the AFC North, and based on the fact the Ravens beat the Steelers, it really means the Steelers find themselves in 2nd place in the division.

The team had their shots, as they allowed the Saints to build a 13-3 lead, but then finally found some offense in the 4th quarter that ended with a Rashard Mendenhall 38-yard TD run with over 10 minutes left to make it 13-10.

On the next Saints drive, they got to the Steelers 20, but on a 3rd-and-4 Bryant McFadden flew in and hit Drew Brees, who fumbled and LaMarr Woodley recovered it.

The Steelers seemed to have all the momentum, as they gained 14 yards in two plays to the 39, and then Ben Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller, who rumbled for 25 yards, but then coughed up the ball right into the hands of Darren Sharper, who took it to the Saints 45.

From there, the Steelers D couldn’t stop Brees and the Saints offense, as they quickly marched the distance, helped by a weak personal foul call on James Harrison. Instead of trying to run the clock out, the Saints put the dagger in, as Brees hit Lance Moore with an 8-yard score to make it 20-10.

Roethlisberger threw a pick on the next series to end any shot the Steelers may have had. The QB was 17-for-28 for 195 yards with a pick. His QB rating was 66.8.

Brees threw for 305 yards on going 34-for-44 with two TD’s and a pick.

The Steelers appeared to go up 7-0 after Ben hit Antwaan Randel El with a 12-yard score early in the second quarter. He was ruled down at the one on the replay, and from there they couldn’t get a yard and settled for a 19-yard Jeff Reed field goal.

Then after the Saints tied it, Ryan Clark picked off Brees near the end of the half, but a weak push off call on Hines Ward cost the Steelers 10 yards, and they had to settle for a 51-yard field goal attempt by Reed, which was missed.

The Saints got a field goal and TD to go up 10 before the frantic comeback fell short. The Steelers continue their run on prime time, as they play the Bengals on Monday night next week.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Heath

    October 31, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I did not know that Hines Ward switched to offensive line. He blocked more then he recieved. If they are going to do that with him it is a waist. Now I am a die hard steelers fan but I am also a fan of Hines Ward and I would respect and understand if he asked for a trede at the end of the season. His number is 86 not 68 if you no what I mean.

  2. J

    October 31, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    first off, that push off call was bullshit. second, miller should of secured the ball. ive been noticing when half the steelers players have the ball they wave it around like their trying to show it off. especially mendenhall. i cant believe they havent lost more fumbles this year. and im not sure whats goin on with the defense this year when it comes to stopping the pass but this is ridiculous

    and where is the passing?? relying on the running game was great when bettis was around. mendenhall is good but he cant consistently move the ball on the ground. and when you get a QB like roethlisberger with receivers like ward and miller that can make make plays, why the hell wouldnt you use em more?? ive been sayin since week one they need to throw the ball more

    this should have been a win, no doubt. was a hell of game but im havin a hard time complimenting the steelers on anything at this point

    kinda long for a comment but w/e. sue me 🙂

    • joseph maher

      October 31, 2010 at 11:05 pm

      when we do finally throw the ball we score ,but to friggin late .bruce ariens has to go he sucks

      • George H

        October 31, 2010 at 11:15 pm

        Look last year and before the season started everyone was screaming for the Steelers to run more and now we lose a game the fans go nuts. Im all for passing the ball more but the reality is and Im certain everyone will agree with me, the balanced play-calling is great but the run has to compliment the pass and vice-versa. The lack of consistency on offense is putrid and Arians cant call a game. He desperately needs to be fired or has to have his responsibilities minimized. Tonigh was very frustrating, however lets not lose our heads, were 5-2 and have to big weeks ahead of us.

        • J

          October 31, 2010 at 11:54 pm

          i was more worried about the defense not gettin it done than what the offense was doin. losin that many games because 2 players werent in is just pathetic

          wasnt last year the year we had no idea who a good running back would be?? in my opinion the running back position has been up for grabs since losing bettis. parker worked out for a little while but i think tryin to make him slow down made him less effective. i cant remember specific names and stats but wasnt it moore that had a problem fumbling?? and like i said before, mendenhall is good, but not consistent enough to rely on running him all the time

          with me living a half hour from cleveland its been hard to keep up with the team the past few years (finally found a place this year that plays all the steelers games thats not to far away), and i dont have the greatest memory so that doesnt help things much, so i may be way off with what ive said here lol

          but seriously, when you look at the stats you can tell running all the time isnt cutting it. it worked the first few games when the QBs werent all that strong (yet batch threw 3 TDs against tampa) but at the same time the defense was actually doin their job

  3. Jeff

    November 1, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I’m not too worried about this loss. You lost to a NFC team that happens to be the defending SB champs at their place. Still 5 and 2 and one of the better teams in the league. I personally would have punted near end of first half instead of trying a 51 yarder. It’s a field position game at that point. Also 1st and goal from one inch and you can’t score is a joke. I really question some of the play calls down there on the goal line. Ben was under too much pressure early but were is the adjustment to get the ball out quicker? I guess I have some coaching questions with this game. Hey, they didn’t play well at all, no rhythm to the offense. Even playing the way they did if Heath doesn’t lose that ball it’s 1st and 10 on the NO 32 yd line. Would have certainly tied it or taken the lead and very well could have stolen that game playing the way they did. What sucks for me is that I live in north central Mass so I have to listen to the Tapetriots fans all week profess they are the top team right now which they are at 6 and 1. I can only hope we take care of the Bungles a week from tonight then set our sights on welcoming those Tapetriots and they’re coach Captain Douche Bag to the Heinz! maybe the Brownies can help us out and upset them next weekend and U may have two 6 and 2 teams going at it.

  4. mark

    November 1, 2010 at 9:14 am

    This game was lost at the line of scrimmage. Offensively anyway. Ben had little time in the first half. One thing that bothers me is: Why do the Steelers always go “empty-set” shotgun? Last year, I forget who it was, said that “when the Steelers do this we are coming after him”! Thats what happened again last night. Why is Mewelde Moore getting carries and not Mendenhall or Redman? Why did it take almost 4 qrts to get Heath Miller involved in catching the ball? Why does the secondary constantly give soft zones, especially over the middle? Why is Trai Essex a Steeler? If they can fix a few problems by Monday,we will forget all about this game. If the Bengals,Patriots and Raiders take a cue from the Saints and attempt that style of attacking the Steelers secondary and are successful, it will be a long season.

  5. DrGeorge

    November 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

    The outcome of this game is not a surprise to those who comment on this site; we’ve been talking about the weakness of the Steelers secondary and the wounded D-line for months. Last night, Hood and Eason masqueraded as Keisel and Aaron Smith; the Saints weren’t fooled. There was almost no pressure on Brees unless Woodley or Harrison blitzed. Without QB pressure, Brees easily found holes in our secondary. The lack of pressure on the QB exposed the coverage problems of our safeties; the two go together. The Steelers forced the Saints to become one dimensional, the pundits say, but the Saints themselves should have happily chosen to become one dimensional. The Steelers are so vulnerable to the pass, why bother to run against them, except as a diversion? The addition of McFadden has strengthened the defense at CB, but our zone coverages (especially the prevent) still don’t work with the personel we have anywhere on the field: the flat, the short middle, or deep. And we continue to give up crucial points via the pass in the final period. NFL QBs have simply figured out our pass coverage and exploit it routinely.

    On offense, the Steelers’ inability to run the ball consistently haunted them all night. With three shots 6″ from the goal line, the Steelers failed to push the ball in. That is not acceptable. I agree, Mark, that Trey Essex is not as effective as Foster or Legursky at OG, but Arians’ game plan and play calling were contributing factors on the goal line and elsewhere. Yes, Miller’s fumble was harmful and ill-timed, but focusing on that one play ignores the larger problems of this offense. When passing, Ben still looks rusty or confused, and the Saints’ blitz exposed his inability to read patterns quickly from the pocket. Moreover, Arians’ patterns often deprived Ben of the check down receivers he needed to neutralize the blitz. When Ben is not sharp and given time, the deficiencies of Arians’ aerial circus become glaringly obvious.

    While this is only one game and while the Saints are an above average football team, fans should be worried. The Steelers’ performance last night was sadly reminiscent of last’s years mid-season collapse, minus the anodyne of Ben’s passing heroics. What Tomlin does in the next two weeks could make or break the season. The Steelers must run, pass, and defend the pass better than they did against the Saints to make the playoffs. Fortunately, small changes in each of these areas will right the ship if made soon enough. But we can’t afford to wait.

    • George H

      November 1, 2010 at 11:30 am

      The fact of the matter is the Steelers went into New Orleans on Halloween night to play the defending Super Bowl champs and got stuck in a bad situation. The Saints were coming off a terrible loss to the Browns the previous week and Brees was more determined than ever to right the ship. The atmosphere alone in that stadium would of been enough to haunt most teams. Unfortunately the Steelers just blew too many chances and ultimately beat ourselves. The fans can blame it on poor officiating all they want, but when the Steelers don’t punch the ball in on the goal line, fumble the ball in the most unopportunistic time, and allow Brees to light up the defense on 3rd down, the team has no one to blame but themselves.

      The positives of the game were few but present. Wallace is showing that he isn’t just a deep threat and can play any type of receiver you want him to be. Saunders is proving himself to be a return threat and I believe he will make a very good receiver as well. Mendenhall is definitely a homerun hitter but needs to be more consistent. All of our linebackers looked solid and despite what some say I thought Eason and Hood did a great job filling in. Keep in mind the Saints had a chance to score from the goal line and we stopped them just the same way they stopped us.

      Overall the secondary had their blunders but the defense as a whole wasnt as bad as everyone is making them out to be. They were extremely physical and kept the team in the game for almost the whole time. It was very frustrating on 3rd down but its a two way street. When the Steelers win, our defense is a bend not break, but when we lose we have a bunch of holes. The offense has to be more fluid, maybe if they were, the Steelers could of gone into the Big Easy and stole one. One game isn’t the end of the season by any means. Hang in there, we all know what happened last year, but thats the past and a different season. The Steelers will gather themselves together and go into a hostile Cinci on Monday night and take care of business.

  6. mark

    November 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    No doubt that Arians handcuffed the pasing game by not providing Ben any check downs, as DrGeorge noticed. Legursky should get his starting position back because Essex is BAD. Again, the pass defense is dreadful when the pass rush is neutralized. That is true for many teams, but like we have said all aong: if you make a team 1 dimensional, and that dimension kills you, what good is it doing? The Bengals and Patriots will be studying this game, and if any 2 teams can exploit the Steeler woes in the secondary its them. The next 2 games just may shape our season.

  7. Adam

    November 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Off subject here kinda. In regards to the last Drew brees 4th quarter touchdown. James Harrison was clearly held yet no call. Actually this guy is routinely held and gets no calls. That TD should have been void, which probaly would have went for a FG. Not that matters that if Miller no fumble game end of game would be different. Well facing the hated Bengals and losing last two games to them I like Steelers to me extremely motivated this week and ready to hurt those striped pussies.

  8. Mike

    November 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    deep breaths everyone, deep breaths.

  9. The Tony

    November 2, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Why haven’t the Steelers been running the bunch formation? Ben is at his best when he calls the shots and limiting Arians play calling as much as possible.

  10. Pingback: Flashback: Steelers Lose 20-10 To Saints on Halloween 2010 - Steelers Gab

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