The Pittsburgh Steelers cruised to a two-score victory against the Saints, but their Week 10 win isn’t the vote of confidence we would have liked.
I hate to be that guy, but I always make it a point to evaluate the game as objectively and brutally honestly as possible. The Pittsburgh Steelers earned a big win on Sunday, and I don’t want to take that away from them. However, the manner in which they won left a lot to be desired.
Leading up to this contest, I was very vocal about what I wanted to see in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints. With the imminent return of T.J. Watt, I predicted that Pittsburgh’s defense would have an excellent game against a suspect opponent. The Saints now have a 3-7 record, which is one reason not to write home about it.
Sunday’s performance was an excellent team effort for Mike Tomlin’s squad. The Steelers ran the ball very well, dominated the time of possession battle, and played excellent defense. By the end of the game, Pittsburgh ran out the clock with a two-score lead while allowing just 4.1 yards per play to their opponent, via ESPN stats.
However, when you really examine the victory in context, it becomes less impressive than we would have hoped.
The Saints were decimated by injuries
Every team has injuries — especially at this point in the season. But when the New Orleans Saints were missing over one-fourth of their roster, we knew that this was going to make an impact. In addition to the 10 players who were already on IR leading up to this game, the Saints were forced to rule out six more players for this contest against the Steelers.
Among the biggest names absent were Marcus Davenport, Marshon Lattimore, Pete Werner, Marcus May, Mark Ingram, and Andrus Peat. This is in addition to losing first-round rookie LT Trevor Penning for the season early in the year.
Steelers offense still didn’t do enough
Yes, the Steelers offense technically did enough to win the game, but no, they didn’t do enough to make us believe this team has changed. Yet again, Pittsburgh failed to get over the 20-point hump offensively. Though they scored 23 back in Week 1 against the Bengals, seven of those points came from a defensive score from Minkah Fitzpatrick. This means that the Steelers have yet to score more than 20 offensive points since their playoff loss following the 2021 season — a game in which they lost 42-21.
While many fans have been quick to point out that the Steelers missed two field goals that would have given them 26 points, hypotheticals must be looked at both ways. If you say that Pittsburgh would have had 26 if Chris Boswell played, I could say that they might not even have scored 20 if the Saints weren’t without nine defensive players in this contest.
Some of this falls on Kenny Pickett and Matt Canada, once again. Despite the running game firing on all cylinders, the passing game managed just 199 yards on 30 attempts. Counting the yardage lost from sacks, this equated to just 4.5 yards per play. This simply won’t be good enough when the Steelers face quality opponents.
A two-score win against a depleted Saints team is really what needed to happen in this contest, and they got it. Though I was somewhat encouraged by the defense and the running game, the passing game left a lot to be desired, and the Steelers continue to struggle to put points on the board. They need to find a way to start converting offensive drives into points in a hurry.