Steeler Nation hasn’t felt this kind of a let down in a while. After a valiant effort, the Steelers fall just short of upsetting the Saints in New Orleans.
This one is going to hurt for a while. Of course, it could all be forgotten if Baker Mayfield and the Browns play spoiler against the Ravens next week, helping the Steelers make the playoffs anyway. But without that, and a victory against the Bengals at Heinz Field, the Steelers will not be qualifying for a chance to make a run at that elusive seventh Lombardi Trophy.
The Steelers had a very legitimate chance of winning this game. After a Saints opening drive touchdown to kick off the second half, taking a 24-14 lead, the Steelers answered with two touchdown drives of their own and forced the Saints to punt on their next two possessions. With a 28-24 lead, the Steelers were driving again. Any points would have been great, but a touchdown might have put the game on ice.
Then that horrendous 3rd-and-2 play. With the ball at the New Orleans 32-yard line, just on the fringe of Chris Boswell range, the Steelers decided to go away from their hot-handed quarterback and double-headed monster at wide receiver in favor of a power run call with Steven Ridley. Ridley fumbled the ball and the Saints recovered.
Now, the Saints had their field goal attempt blocked on the following possession, but this is where the game seemed to take a turn for the worst from Pittsburgh’s perspective. The offense couldn’t do anything after the blocked field goal, and special teams failed to convert a fake punt with Roosevelt Nix up the middle. The Saints were able to drive and take the lead with a touchdown.
Then marched out Big Ben and that offense that had ripped apart the New Orleans defense all game long. The Steelers got close to Boswell’s range again, only for JuJu Smith-Schuster to fumble away the ball, clinching the loss.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Steelers and it could mean the end of the Steelers’ playoff chances. The Ravens still have to beat the Browns, but with this game so close to being a win, it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Here are three reasons this game was so close to being a Steelers’ victory.