Saints seek first victory in Pittsburgh since 1987


Nov 24, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; NFL hall of fame linebacker Rickey Jackson prior to kickoff of a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers do not meet in the regular season often. Tomorrow’s meeting marks the 15th time these two will face each other, with the series being tied 7-7. The Saints look to do something they haven’t done since 1987, and that’s win in Pittsburgh.

The 1987 season ended a 21-year drought for the New Orleans Saints. It was the first time in franchise history that the team finished above.500. Back in 1987, the league only had fifteen games due the Week 3 player strike (which cancelled games). On November 29, 1987, the Saints won their eighth game of the season, which officially earned the team their first winning season.

The Dome Patrol, which consisted of linebackers Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling, and Vaughan Johnson, made their presence felt with two crucial goal-line stands late in the game. Dave Waymer, fittingly made an interception late to seal the victory. Waymer was a member of the wretched 1980 Saints, who went 1-15.

The Steelers weren’t exactly the powerhouse they once were in the 1970s, as quarterback Terry Bradshaw was long gone, and head coach Chuck Noll was nearing the end of his tenure. In that game, they were led by quarterback Mark Malone, who you know better as a radio analyst for Westwood One.

The Saints finished the 1987 season 12-3, which was good for 2nd best in the then NFC West behind the San Francisco 49ers. The team would make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and host a Wild Card game against the Minnesota Vikings, but would be cut down 44-10 due to a poor showing (149 offensive yards and four turnovers).

Here’s how the past five matchups have played out between the Saints and Steelers:

10/31/10 – New Orleans Saints 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 10
11/12/06 – Pittsburgh Steelers 38, New Orleans Saints 31
10/06/02 – New Orleans Saints 32, Pittsburgh Steelers 29
10/17/93 – Pittsburgh Steelers 37, New Orleans Saints 14
12/16/90 – Pittsburgh Steelers 9, New Orleans Saints 6

The 2006 season was the last visit to Heinz Field for the black and gold, and the Saints (like many road contests have fared over the past several years) fell into an early hole 14-0. Deuce McAllister couldn’t get things going on the ground, as he only rushed for 56 yards on 14 carries, but did score two touchdowns. Drew Brees threw for 398 yards on 31 completions and a score. The Saints would make things interesting, as they cut the Steelers lead to 38-31 with less than ten minutes remaining in the game, but would fall short in the end.

The Saints march in to Sunday’s game as a -4.5 point underdog.