What we learned from Pittsburgh Steelers satisfying win vs New Orleans

The Steelers earned a much-needed and much-deserved win against the New Orleans Saints

To say that we earned a much-needed and much-deserved win versus the New Orleans Saints is an understatement of epic proportions. The Steelers win was also satisfying in many ways. First and foremost, we simply needed a win.  Second, the win may ‘kick-start’ a second-half surge that would at least make our record more respectable than it is right now.

Third, the win may also renew our confidence that we can win a game at home despite not playing exceptionally well in every facet of the game.  Last, the win is a boon for Mike Tomlin, Matt Canda, and Teryl Austin.

I don’t want to make more out of this win than what it is but had the Steelers lost to the Saints at home with T.J. Watt back in the lineup, I don’t think that would have been something from which we would have recovered easily.  You don’t just shake off that type of loss.

Let’s see what we learned on the offensive side of the ball.

The Steelers finally found the long-lost running game

Wow, we finally got the running game going.  According to ESPN, the Steelers ran the ball forty-three times for two-hundred and seventeen yards.  Without doing a whole bunch of research, I can’t remember a time when we were able to run the ball consistently and for as many yards as we did against the Saints.

Leading the way on the ground was Najee Harris, who, frankly, until this game, had not been running the ball very well.  In fact, there are some fans whom I am sure feel that Harris was not worth a first-round pick.

All I will say on that matter is this:  Harris had ninety-nine yards on twenty carries, averaging just under five yards per carry.  Obviously, Harris could not have had that type of performance had it not been for the offensive line.  While I do not like the fact that we gave up six sacks, the ‘O-line’ was dominant in the run game.

Look, I don’t know how Harris will play in subsequent games, but first-round picks generally come through when the team needs them the most and Harris did that today against the Saints.  Hopefully, that translates into more productivity for the remainder of the season.

Let’s see what we learned on the defensive side of the ball.

The Steelers defense rose to the occasion against the Saints

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the return of Watt heralded the return of the stingy Steelers defense we have grown accustomed to seeing over the years.  While Watt did not register a sack. Alex Highsmith got two sacks.

Without Watt, the defense was simply unable to apply consistent pressure on opposing QBs.  With Watt, that equation changes dramatically. The attention that is paid to Watt enables others, Highsmith, for example, to shine.

I think that is a good problem to have as I am sure Watt doesn’t care who gets to the QB so long as we do get to the QB. What is also indicative of how differently the defense plays with Watt in the lineup is the fact that we held the Saints offense to forty-five plays, ten first downs, and a meager twenty-nine yards rushing.

Let’s see what else we learned.

The Steelers coaching staff may feel a bit of vindication for the win against the Saints

The win against the Saints is huge for Mike Tomlin, Matt Canada, and Teryl Austin, make no mistake about it.  I think it’s fair to say that during the course of the first half of the 2022 season, all three have received criticism for poor performances.

One win will not absolve them from shouldering responsibility for a sub-par season as we sit here today, but one win could translate into two wins which could translate into a winning streak that may just get us into the playoff conversation.

Of course, if we lose next week, this win against the Saints will be nothing more than an afterthought, but for right now, let’s revel in a win that saw the defense come up big when it had to, that saw the running game come to life and that saw the return of our most valuable player.

We can only hope that Tomlin and company can dissect this win to create a formula we can deploy for the rest of the 2022 season.  If that happens, who knows what the end result could be.