Free safety Darren Sharper’s hands were once again the salvation for the New Orleans Saints as number 42 recovered a Steelers’ fumble in Saints territory in the 4th quarter that set up eight plays later a touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees to wide receiver Lance Moore.
If last weekend’s defeat was the one none of the pre-season prognosticators projected than this was the win nobody predicted.
Facing arguably the best team in the NFL, the Saints offense put up 20 points while the defense played strong with the exception of only one Steeler drive as the 2010 Super Bowl champions defeated the 2009 Super Bowl champions.
As expected, the toughest run defense in the league bottled up the Saints ground game though eventually Brees found his receivers in the second half. Brees was picked once and sacked twice, including a lost fumble that kept the Steelers in the game. The Saints quarterback completed 34 of 44 passes for 305 yards, two touchdowns and an INT.
Most importantly, Brees didn’t compound his frustration as he did against Arizona and Cleveland and outlasted the Steeler defense.
And since his misses tend to get a lot of attention, it should be noted that kicker Garrett Hartley was perfect, booting two field goals and two extra point conversions.
But the story was the defense.
Though not the ballhawks they were last season, the Saints defense has done a better job frustrating offenses. Perhaps their finest moment of the night was a goal line stance that came about after Saints head coach Sean Payton challenged a Steeler touchdown in the first half.
The Saints defense also got to Steeler quarterback Ben Rothlisberger, sacking him three times and picking him off to ice the game in the fourth quarter.
Though the win doesn’t have same “playoff’ value as a victory over a division or conference opponent, beating the Steelers is a tremendous boost to the team and fans’ morale as the Saints remain in the playoff hunt.
New Orleans got another win on Sunday night as the folks from Guinness World Records were on hand to determine whether the nationally televised game would achieve record status as the largest Halloween costume party. Both New Orleans and Pittsburgh fans showed up in costumes and masks to set the new record.
Some of the costumes seen at the game included a legion of young women dressed as sexy referees, a flock of Colonel Sanderses, a conquistador, Ike Turner, a graveyard’s worth of zombies and voodoo figures, a family of Super Mario Brothers and the usual decked out fans who go to every home Saints game in garb.
November 1st marks the anniversary of the birth of the New Orleans Saints, when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle announced that the Crescent City was awarded an expansion franchise in the Pontchartrain Hotel on All Saints Day of 1966.