I hope that was the worst half of football that the Saints have all season.
After winning the toss and receiving the kick, the Steelers moved the ball at will, including a huge 55-yard bomb from Ben Roethlisberger to Cedrick Wilson, en route to a 6-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown. The Steelers led 17-0 at the half and out-gained the Saints by around 300 yards. The rush defense looked solid, but the pass defense is clearly a work in progress.
The first-string offense (minus Deuce McAllister, who had the day off) was only fully intact for about ten plays, not enough time to get into a good rhythm. Brees completed 1 of 6 passes for 6 yards. Reggie had 2 carries for 8 yards.
The Saints employed a pretty vanilla pass defense, at least with their first-stringers, something that Roethlisberger exploited for 73 yards on 2 completions. Will Smith and Mark Simoneau both sacked Charlie Batch. The Steelers also executed three screen passes in the first quarter (including a 33-yarder to end it) before the Saints got wise.
In general, the Saints' playcalling was pretty banal on both sides of the ball.
Fife put up decent numbers, 5-8 for 47 yards, and threw the only Saints score, but he made the receivers work a bit too hard to make catches. He needs to improve his accuracy. Palko was 4 of 8 with a pick. From the looks of it, Fife started the game ahead of Palko and will stay that way.
Anwar "Sadat" Phillips and Trev Faulk both had rough games. Phillips had a costly facemask penalty and missed a tackle on Carey Phillips' long run (he would have been better served hitting him with his purse). Faulk had a couple of careless penalties, not a good sign for a guy who's on-the-bubble.
On the plus side, Olindo Mare's only kickoff went for a touchback and Steve Weatherford averaged 47.2 yards per kick.
Hokie likes safety Chris Reis, and if Hokie likes him, so do I.
Also, nobody got seriously hurt. Robert Meachem is going to be pretty sore tomorrow.
All in all, the Saints looked like it was their first game in about six months. It's important to note that this loss will make Sean Payton's record 1-4 in the preseason. Over the past year, he's made it clear that he's not overly concerned with winning preseason games. Which is fine, assuming that the team is ready to go on opening day.
Right now, it looks like there's work to be done before the Bills come to the Dome on Friday. Monday's an off-day, so three days of prep work until the next game; what a shitty shitty schedule.