1 WHAT WE LEARNED
When they get their act together and play for 60 minutes — OK, about 54 minutes — the Saints can be a formidable team. Taking advantage of Steelers mistakes, actually forcing them in several instances, and getting big performances from players filling in key roles (Kenny Stills and Nick Toon for Brandin Cooks, John Jenkins for Brodrick Bunkley), the Saints not only survived but thrived. And once again, there’s nothing wrong with Drew Brees’ arm, as his 69-yard TD pass to Stills can attest. This week, there was nothing wrong with his decision making.
2 TRENDING NOW
“The Sunday Splash.” Saints coach Sean Payton reacted with playful intensity when asked about national reports of tensions between him and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, among others. “I love what (Ryan) is doing,” Payton said. “Yeah, I get upset when there are 12 guys on the field. It doesn’t mean I’m looking for another defensive coach.” Payton also brushed off talk of interest in Ray Rice, looking to draft a replacement for Brees, and intimated the Ryan info came from ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. It was quite a show.
3 FINAL THOUGHTS
It wasn’t always pretty, especially the last five or six minutes, but for a team so desperate for any kind of win, hanging on for a 35-32 victory over the playoff-worthy Steelers was a wonderful achievement. The Saints did a lot of good things to build on, namely forcing and taking advantage of turnovers and avoiding their own. They are still tied for first in the NFC South with four crucial games left. Against some long odds, the Saints showed they can really make those games count.
-- Scott Rabalais