The 2018 New Orleans Saints (13-2) have lived a charmed life: after losing their first game of the season, the Saints rattled off 10 wins in a row. Following a 13-10 stumble in Dallas, the Saints then proceeded to win two divisional games in a row (Tampa Bay, Carolina), giving themselves a clear route to the number one seed in the NFC.
The Saints needed only one win this afternoon against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to secure that all-important first round bye in the playoffs.
Here is how the game unfolded:
The Steelers win the toss and take the ball to open the game. After gaining a first down with a 15-yard pass on the first play of the game to JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers stall and punt.
Following a touchback, the Saints start their first possession of the game at their own 20-yard line. Saints open the game with two straight runs by Mark Ingram to gain a first down. On the third play of the drive, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk hurt his ankle. For the Saints, the injuries on the offensive line continue to rotate. After yet another first down, Taysom Hill throws deep to the end zone and is picked off, the Steelers return the ball to their 40-yard line. Sean Payton getting extra cute again, and it comes back to burn him.
The Steelers eventually stall at the Saints’ 31-yard line and Chris Boswell converts a 49-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead.
On their second possession of the game, the Saints’ start at their 25-yard line. Saints get into Steelers’ territory on a 28-yard pass to Michael Thomas. On 4th-and-1 from the Steelers’ 34-yard line, the Saints go for it. Brees launches a pass to Alvin Kamara in the end zone and a pass interference is called on Joe Haden. The Saints’ get the ball at the one-yard line and Mark Ingram rumbles into the end zone. After the PAT, the Saints lead the Steelers 7-3. With that touchdown, Mark Ingram passed Deuce McAllister for the most rushing touchdowns in Saints’ history.
Steelers take over at their 10-yard line and move the ball up near midfield and Ben Roethlisberger finds his tight end Vance McDonald inside the Saints’ red zone for 49 yards as the first quarter ends.
Steelers start the quarter at the Saints’ 13-yard line and on third-and-9 from the 12-yard line, Roethlisberger throws and incompletion and Chris Boswell makes a 30-yard field goal, narrowing the Saints’ lead to 7-6.
Saints take over at their own 25-yard line after the kickoff. On the first play of the drive, Drew Brees hits Ted Ginn Jr. for 15 yards, in his first game since week 7. On third-and-8, Brees finds Michael Thomas. On the play, left tackle Terron Armstead re-injured his pectoral muscle. Saints move deep into Steelers territory on a pass interference play on Morgan Burnett. On a 3rd-and-2 play from Pittsburgh’s 8-yard line, Alvin Kamara runs into the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Saints a 14-6 lead.
Steelers take over at their 25-yard line after the touchback on the kickoff, but go three-and-out under heavy pressure from the Saints’ defense and have to punt. Saints fair-catch the ball at their own 35-yard line
Saints get Terron Armstead back on the drive, after the left tackle had gotten hurt a few plays earlier. After gaining one first down, the Saints stall near midfield and punt for the first time of the day, pinning the Steelers at their 3-yard line.
The Steelers run on the first two plays of the drive, gaining 8 yards and on third down, Ben Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown for 28 yards. Steelers get into Saints’ territory almost solely on the arms of Roethlisberger. As the two-minute warning hits, the Steelers face a 3rd-and-11 from the Saints’ 39-yard line.
Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown for a first down to keep the drive going. On 3rd-and-9 from the Saints’ 23-yard line, Eli Apple is called for a pass interference giving the Steelers the ball at New Orleans’ 2-yard line. Roethlisberger finds Jaylen Samuels for a touchdown and convert the two-point conversion with Eli Rogers to tie the game at 14.
Saints take over at their 25-yard line with 40 seconds left and drive to the Steelers’ 25-yard line in the blink of an eye, the drive included a 32-yard catch-and-run by Alvin Kamara. With seven seconds left, Wil Lutz makes a 43-yard field goal, giving the Saints back the lead at 17-14. With that field goal, Wil Lutz has made 26 straight field goals, a Saints’ franchise record.
With the Steelers having deferred to the second half, New Orleans receives the kickoff and after a touchback, Saints take over at their 25-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Drew Brees finds Alvin Kamara for a 42-yard catch-and-run pass into Steelers’ territory.
Saints move to the edge of the red zone and into it on a run play by Alvin Kamara. Saints convert a crucial third-and-4 play to Michael Thomas to get into a first-and-goal situation.
On third-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s one-yard line, Alvin Kamara plunges into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game, and the Saints lead 24-14 after the PAT.
Steelers take over at their 25-yard line after the kickoff’s touchback. Pittsburgh moves into Saints’ territory in two plays by Ben Roethlisberger to Smith-Schuster. Steelers get deep into the red zone on pass and screen plays. On third-and-goal from the Saints’ 3-yard line, Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown for a touchdown, bringing the Steelers within 3, at 24-21.
Saints start at their 25-yard line after the touchback. Brees is sacked by T.J. Watt for the Steelers’ first sack of the game, and face a third-and-16 at their own 36-yard line, Brees gets sacked again and the Saints have to punt.
Steelers fair-catch the punt at their own 34-yard line and on one play, Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown at the Saints’ 40-yard line. On the next play, Big Ben finds Smith-Schuster in the Saints’ red zone. Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown again for a touchdown, giving the Steelers a 28-24 lead.
Saints take over at their 25-yard line, with 1:02 left in the third quarter. and face a 3rd-and-2 at their own 33-yard line as the quarter ends.
Brees’ pass to Keith Kirkwood falls incomplete and the Saints have to punt yet again, which the Steelers fair-catch at their 25-yard line. Steelers use the running game effectively to midfield and into Saints’ territory. On 3rd-and-2 from the Saints’ 34-yard line, the Steelers are stopped and Pittsburgh’s running back Stevan Ridley appears to fumble the ball, punched out by safety Kurt Coleman.
Saints recover the ball at their 35-yard line. Brees on the third play of the drive, finds Keith Kirkwood for 23 yards to the Steelers’ 30-yard line. On the drive, left guard Andrus Peat replaces Terron Armstead at left tackle. On third-and-10 from the Steelers’ 32-yard line, Brees’ pass falls incomplete. Wil Lutz’s 50-yard field goal attempt is blocked and the Steelers take over at their own 37-yard line.
On the second play of the drive, Demario Davis sacks Roethlisberger, forcing a 3rd-and-14 and the Steelers go three-and-out. On 4th-and-5, the Steelers go for a fake punt but do not reach the line of gain, giving the Saints the ball back at the Steelers’ 46-yard line.
Brees goes into four-minutes offense mode with 4:06 left in the game. On third-and-10 from the Steelers’ 34-yard line, Brees finds Michael Thomas for 8 yards the Saints face a 4th-and-2 at Pittsburgh’s 26-yard line as the two-minute warning hits.
On 4th-and-2, Brees throws towards Michael Thomas and the pass falls incomplete, but a flag is thrown for pass interference, giving the Saints a first down at Pittsburgh’s 22-yard line.
On 3rd-and-20 after a holding penalty on Ryan Ramczyk, Drew Brees finds Ted Ginn Jr. for a 25-yard gain at the Steelers’ 7-yard line. On 2nd-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s 2-yard line, Drew Brees finds Michael Thomas for a touchdown. The PAT is good and the Saints retake the lead 31-28 with 1:25 left in the game.
After the kickoff’s touchback, Pittsburgh takes over at their 25-yard line, and a false start penalty moves them back to the 20-yard line. After two incomplete passes, the Steelers face a 3rd-and-15 from their own 20-yard line and the pass falls incomplete. On 4th-and-15, Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown for a first down, keeping the drive alive.
Steelers get into Saints’ territory. On a pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Sheldon Rankins forces the second-year receiver to fumble by and Demario Davis recovers the ball. Saints Ball!!!
Who gets your Saints’ game ball after this win vs. the Steelers?
This poll is closed
Sheldon Rankins, forcing the game-sealing fumble
Drew Brees, who was back with 326 yards and a touchdown
The Who Dat Nation who was "Playoff-loud" in the Superdome today
Not Cam Jordan: he made Big Ben really mad and Ben shredded the Saints’ defense
The 40 burgers that helped my heart go through this game