STEELERS 27, SAINTS 14
Steelers' record: 1-2
One year ago: 1-2
Preseason series record: Steelers lead, 6-2
Coach Mike Tomlin said it was his plan all along to play his offensive stars in the third preseason game, and so it was against the Saints that Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Le'Veon Bell all saw their first action of the preseason.
"They have gotten a lot of good, quality work, not only in training camp but in our practices against Detroit," said Tomlin about the guys who made their preseason debut. "They've had some exposure to people who are not on our team. Now it's time to take them into a stadium and take the next step in preparation. Some of the guys who haven't played (in the preseason) have done this for an extended period of time. They might not need the exposure that others need, but I do think it's an important thing to get into a stadium with overall game readiness and deal with the things and the emotions associated with getting ready to play. They're going to do it, and then we're going to move on."
HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT
Tomlin likely got everything he wanted from this game, with the possible exception of the elbow injury to Marcus Gilbert and the ankle injury to Cam Heyward. Each of the guys making their first appearance of this preseason – Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and DeAngelo Williams – was productive, and each also made it out of the game healthy.
Game action from the Pittsburgh Steelers' third preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.
The game also served as a bounce-back performance for both Landry Jones and Sammie Coates. One week after throwing four interceptions in a half against the Eagles, Jones completed 19-of-22 for 206 yards, with one touchdown, no interceptions, and a rating of 120.8, and Coates, who took personal responsibility for two of those interceptions, caught two passes for 66 yards, one of which covered 58 yards and the other being an 8-yard touchdown.
Beyond some of the individual production, the Steelers also did better in several team areas. They were plus-2 in turnover ratio and would have been plus-3 if not for an iffy penalty called on Vince Williams that nullified a fumble that he forced and Doran Grant recovered.
The Steelers were 2-for-2 in the red zone, converted 43 percent on third down, and finished with over 400 net yards of offense.
FIRST HALF STAT THAT STANDS OUT
Ben Roethlisberger completed 12-of-17 for 148 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a rating of 136.4. Landry Jones was 12-for-15 for 116 yards, with one touchdown, no interceptions, and a rating of 121.1. The Steelers had five offensive possessions and scored three touchdowns.
It might be trite to suggest, but the difference in this game was the presence of the Steelers offensive stars. But beyond that, it was a fourth quarter in which the Steelers defense had three takeaways, forced a punt, and turned the ball over on downs on five Saints offensive possessions.
Marcus Gilbert left the game with an injury to his right elbow, and Cameron Heyward left with an injury to his right ankle. Heyward came out for the second half with his ankle in a walking boot. The initial belief was that Gilbert's elbow was hyper-extended and that Heyward sustained a high-ankle sprain.