Sweet Bourbon Street Music: Brees the “Maestro” was hitting his high notes to the tune of 34 for 44 against the “Steel Curtain”
It was a matchup of David vs Goliath proportions. The Pittsburgh Steelers and their mighty defense came to the Superdome to take on a struggling New Orleans Saints team that was embarrassed by the lowly Cleveland Browns a week ago in front of their home crowd. Few expected the Saints to be able to come out and match wits with the Steelers, who have arguably been playing some of the best football in the league, both offensively and defensively. Fortunately for the Who Dat Nation, the Saints showed that they were more than prepared for the challenge. This time, it was the black and gold from the 504 area code that showed up more ready to play.
They knew that trying to run the ball was going to be virtually impossible from the get go. So the Saints did what they do best–they took what the Steelers defense gave them and made them pay. Drew Brees bounced back masterfully from his dismal performance last week against the Browns, finishing the night with 305 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He completed 34 of 44 passes. One statistic stated that those were the most yards completed against the Steelers since 2002!
However, even the improved performance by Brees and the offense didn’t overshadow the stellar play of the Saints defense. Gregg Williams’ crew came into tonight’s game ranked 3rd overall, a stat that many either didn’t know or found too insignificant to mention when making pregame comparisons. The run defense has been average with a 16th ranking, but the pass defense has been impressively ranked 3rd. Yet, several Saints defensive players left their marks on the Steelers offense tonight in keeping Ben Roethlissberger and company from finding their rhythm. Safety Darren Sharper showed why he was sorely missed during his lengthy recovery when he plucked a fumble from the air following a monster hit by Marvin Mitchell to jar the ball loose from Heath Miller when the Steelers were driving the field. MLB Jonathan Vilma was also very impressive as he got to Roethlissberger for a sack and had six solo tackles; DE Will Smith got in on the action by recording 1.5 sacks; and Leigh Torrence had a critical interception of Roethlisberger to seal the deal. I don’t think enough can be said about the performance of the Saints defense right now. Much maligned and often overlooked, they certainly answered the call this evening.
The New Orleans Saints proved once again that when they eliminate the turnovers and limit the penalties, they can compete with even the most elite teams in the league. Not only did they come out and get a crucial win when they needed it most, but they showed glimpses of the Superbowl winning team of last year. Though tough, this game was nothing new for the Saints; they’ve played this type of game before and won. If I’ve said it before, I’ve said it a thousand times, they should stick with what made them successful last year unti it stops working rather than trying so hard to reinvent themselves. At 5-3, the Saints are still one of the best teams in the NFL and I think they proved it tonight. If they can just stay consistent with the level of play they exhibited tonight, I know we will see more great things from this New Orleans Saints team.