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The Saints had a strong response for those who were ready to count them out as contenders following their embarrassing home loss to the Browns last week.
Drew Brees completed 20-of-22 passes in the second half and threw a pair of touchdown passes as New Orleans outscored Pittsburgh, 17-7, in the final two quarters of a 20-10 win in the Superdome Sunday night.
With the 1-6 Panthers up next on the schedule, the Saints, who have endured a slew of injuries at running back and cornerback, have an opportunity to head into a much-needed Week 10 bye with a 6-3 record. They're very much alive in the race with the Falcons and Buccaneers, who both are 5-2, for the NFC South title.
The PFW Spin
Brees' efficiency in the second half was key, but much of the credit for New Orleans' win is going to the defense, and deservedly so. It was instrumental in handing the Steelers their first loss since QB Ben Roethlisberger returned from suspension in Week Five.
The Saints held Pittsburgh to 279 yards, and Roethlisberger took a beating from pass rushers. He was sacked three times and was hit four additional times.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams knew it was a risk to blitz Roethlisberger so frequently. Sending extra pass rushers at Roethlisberger left some holes in coverage and the quarterback has proven adept at hitting hot routes and beating the blitz in the past, but Williams did it anyway, and the strategy worked well. The two-time Super Bowl winner threw for just 195 yards and six passing first downs, and Pittsburgh converted just 3-of-10 third downs.
The Saints did this while first-string CBs Jabari Greer (shoulder) and Tracy Porter (knee) sat out.
With a chance to rally late in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger was picked off by CB Leigh Torrence, sealing the Saints' win. Torrence, who has been buried on the depth chart and cut twice by New Orleans this season, was thrust into the lineup after CB Patrick Robinson suffered an ankle injury on the second play of the game.
It was the first interception of Torrence's five-year career.
The Saints are still thought of as a team that wins with Brees and a high-scoring offense, and the aerial attack is one of the league's best. These kinds of performances are becoming common for Williams' third-ranked defense, though. It has held teams to 14 points or less in 4-of-8 games this season and has looked like the Saints' greatest strength at times.