Steelers 28 Saints 31
This was a body blow. This game was starting to give you the belief that the Steelers could sustain a run into the playoffs by taking it to the Saints in the Super Dome. Of course that hope was extinguished as we entered into the final phase of the game with some costly turnovers, but elements of the demise emerged early in the game with letdowns on defense and some agonizing (and questionable) penalties.
Because of its inconsistency and the way it imposes itself on the game, officiating is making games more frustrating than fair, bordering on watchable. Some bad calls (e.g., pass interference on Alvin Kamara in the end zone, setting Saints up at the Steeler one yard line) have significant implications for the outcome of the game.
Our contention is that this is less about the quality of the officials than it is about a game with complex rules injected with significant subjectivity where bright lines and common sense should be the rule.
NFL – get your act together.
Late choke – Defense
With 1:41 left in the game and the Saints facing a 3rd down and 20 from Pittsburgh’s 30 yard line, Ted Ginn found himself only an uninhabited island in the middle of the field at the Steeler 12 yard line. He managed to surge another 5 yards before Joe Haden brought him down at the 7 yard line. Two plays later Brees hit Michael Thomas in the end zone putting the Saints up for good, 31-28 with 1:25 left in the game.
Late choke – Offense
By 10:21 of the 4th quarter, the Steelers had driven 41 yards to the NO 34 yard line. With 3rd and 2, Ben handed the ball to Stevan Ridley who headed for the A gap. In the melee, Ridley coughed up the ball, ending a very promising drive.
With the ball back at 5:41 with 2nd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 42, Ben dropped back to pass. As Demario Davis charged in, Jaylen Samuels executed a perfect swim move, allowing Davis unimpeded access to Ben, bringing him down for a 9 yard loss. The Steelers couldn’t convert on 3rd and 14 leading to the fake punt leaving us one yard short and handing the ball back to the Saints at the Steeler 46.
Steelers Made This Bed
Mike Tomlin said it after the game, “We made the bed, we’ll lay in it”. If teams can be forgiven for dropping games to top-tier talent, they can’t be excused for losing to teams with combined records off 16-26-1 (Cleveland, Denver, Oakland). A win against any one of those teams, and we’re not sitting here hoping the Browns can beat the Ravens in Baltimore next week.
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