The Pittsburgh Steelers jumped out to a 6-o lead on the strength of two field goals, but the New Orleans Saints came back with a pair of touchdowns on the last two drives of the half to take a 14-6 advantage into halftime as they set to take the ball to start the third quarter.
Le’Veon Bell ran well, but Ben Roethlisberger has been off all day, throwing high even before his throwing hand was hit. The defense got off to a hot start before being exposed in the second quarter.
With a return out to the 25, Cameron Heyward tripped up Mark Ingram on first down after a gain of two. Marques Colston was good for four or five to set up a short third down. Pressure forced the dump off pass to hang up short for an incompletion.
Bell could only find space for two yards on first down after the punt. Roethlisberger threaded one to Heath Miller for the first down. On the following play, Cameron Jordan tipped and intercepted a pass at the line for a huge blow, giving the Saints the ball at the 15. Two plays, a broken tackle, and New Orleans took a 21-6 lead off the second turnover.
Bell picked up about four yards along the left sideline following a short kick return as the Steelers turned to the no huddle. On second down, Roethlisberger pump faked before dumping it to Bell for the first down on his first reception of the game.
Dri Archer checked in an split wide as Roethlisberger turned to the right for Miller on a nine-yard gain. Still in, Archer got the handoff, but was blasted at the line of scrimmage as Bell and the run package checked in. Bell plowed ahead on a second effort for the first down.
Bell took a pitch for five yards on first down on his 19th carry. On second down, Roethlisberger took off under pressure to run for the first. He and Miller connected for 10 yards to the 30.
Bell got the target again for a little over 10 yards inside the red zone. Miller slipped chasing after a leading pass in the end zone for an incompletion on first down. Brown, however, snagged the ball at the one-yard line to set up first and goal. Bell had to take it all the way to the far side pylon, but he did get in from the one for his second rushing touchdown in as many weeks and third of the season to make it a one-score game.
After a hold on the return, the Saints were backed up to the 11, and Jason Worilds kept Ingram bottled up on the edge for a loss of one. On second down, however, Brees lofted one to Stills for the first down at the 30.
Brett Keisel walked off in pain, but the defense set up a third and 10 with two stops. Brees was left with a clean pocket, and Still got behind Ike Taylor for the 69-yard touchdown on a double move to take a 28-13 lead with a little over a quarter to play.
One first down, Bell was left wide open in center field for a big gain as the linebacker was picked off. Brown could not get the last block on what could have been a score, but the play went for a career-long 48 yards.
Roethlisberger rolled to the right and threw across his body to Martavis Bryant, but the receiver didn’t have time to adjust. Back to the ground, Bell was smothered after a yard. Now third and 15 after a false start, Bell nearly made a diving reception on a wide throw, but Suisham made it a 28-16 game.
Ingram picked up three yards on first down. Brees found his backup tight end to the 40-yard line on second down. Worilds record the first sack of the game on the following play. Brees found Stills in front of a diving Taylor, but it was subsequently ruled incomplete. Vince Williams blasted Brees on third down, but a holding flag in the secondary negated the play.
Ingram took the ball all the way to within the 10 on the following play as a skirmish broke out, with Taylor in the center of it. A personal foul on the defense made it half the distance. From three yards out, Colston’s grab gave Brees five touchdowns on the day and put the Steelers in a 35-16 hole.
Brown caught his fifth catch to the day for a first down, and Wheaton got his first on the next play for another first down. Miller dropped the pass on the following play. Roethlisberger checked down to Bell, but there was nowhere to run. The third down pass was too high and nearly incomplete as the Steelers find themselves in four-down territory. On fourth and 10, Wheaton caught the pass short and stretched out for the first, but his knee was down, resulting in a turnover on downs after the Saints challenged.
With eight minutes to play and down 19, it’s not looking good.
On first down after the turnover on downs, the Steelers did blow up a run in the backfield for a loss of four. On second down after a false start, they got a few back, but still set up a third and 16. A stop gets the Steelers the ball back with about six minutes to play.
The Saints downed the punt on the five-yard line. Wheaton was good for 17 out of bounds on first down. A high pass to Miller kept him inbounds for six yards. Bell picked up the first through the air.
Roethlisberger’s pass was batted down at the line. A hold on Kelvin Beachum negated a first down. He was brought down on second and 20 at the line of scrimmage. On third down, Wheaton picked up about half of the necessary yardage, but a facemask added 15 yards and a first down.
A few chunk plays later and the Steelers had first and goal. A penalty on the Saints made it half the distance. Roethlisberger was incomplete to Moore, behind him, on first down on a pass that may have been tipped. On second down, Moore had the ball defended in front of him. Five wide on third down, Roethlisberger found Brown for his 10th touchdown of the year to make it 35-24 after a two-point conversion, but with under three minutes to play.
Suisham’s onside kick attempt went out of bounds. The Steelers had one timeout remaining with 2:34 to play, down 11. Taylor injured his shoulder tackling Ingram for a loss on first down as Pittsburgh used its last timeout with 2:27 to play. On second down, a run of one brought the game down to the two-minute warning.
After a gain of six, the Saint punted with under 80 seconds to play. From the three, Bell took a short pass out to the 32 and added another 15 via penalty. Another two first downs through the air gave Bell his biggest yardage total of his career with 159 receiving yards and 95 on the ground. With four seconds left from the three after a penalty, Roethlisberger connected with Brown for the score, his 11th of the year, on the final play of the game in a loss. Tomlin broke out all of his two-point plays to finish the game down 35-32.