Steelers @ New Orleans:
The Postgame Comments
A very tough, hard-fought football game in which the Steelers did just enough to lose. Some quick thoughts in the aftermath.
- The defensive line was not the problem: I have made much of the loss of Aaron Smith, and the Steelers are now 0-1 without him, but Ziggy Hood acquitted himself pretty well, as did Nick Eason. The Saints rushed the football 21 times for a grand total of 30 yards; and while they are not the most physical offensive line the Steelers will face this season it is a start.
- He did what you wanted, so don't complain now:
Like all NFL coaches, Mike Tomlin has been pretty risk-averse during his tenure in Pittsburgh. So what's up with going for on fourth-and-four, or kicking a 50+ yard field goal with Jeff Reed? How important is field position? On their scoring drives the Saints started from their own 41 yard line, their own 44, their own 41 again, and their own 45. Mike Tomlin coached like a fan, left his defense on a short field once too often, and they were fortunate to give up only 20 points. Hopefully we have all learned a lesson.
- The offensive line took a big step backward: Three sacks, numerous quarterback pressures, and ~ most importantly ~ the inability to drive the football in from inside the one-yard line all point to a dreadful performance by a unit that had shown marked improvement over last year. If you don't believe me ask Steelers radio commentator Tunch Ilkin or roundly criticized the offensive until for the inability to pick-up the New Orleans blitz which, from his perspective was n't anything new or terribly exotic.
As many have already, allow me to point out this is the game that the Steelers could most afford to lose. However, the next two are most wins if they hope to find their way into the playoffs.