You wouldn't have known that the Pittsburgh Steelers had only won two games ahead of their tilt with the New Orleans Saints with how good the offense looked in this one. The Saints, needing a win to remain a serious contender in the NFC South race (though serious and NFC South probably shouldn't be uttered together in the same sentence), floundered in the Steel City, losing 20-10 and dropping to 3-7.
To put things into perspective, you know this game is bad when the Saints media covering the game in Pittsburgh continued to make jokes about the various pigeons on the field.
It's not fun to continue to watch bad football but I'm here to tell you what we learned about the Saints this week. Let's get to it, kids.
Penalties continue to come in bulk
While many will point to the number of injuries that had piled up for the team entering this game, penalties were truly the story of this game. New Orleans racked up 10 penalties for 74 yards and it felt like whenever anything good happened, it got wiped out by a penalty.
Sometimes early in a new head coach's career, you'll see sloppy penalties and that's frustrating but at least normal. What's not normal is for those penalties to continue by the time Week 10 rolls around. That's when you can solely point to the coaching staff as the reason for all of the sloppy play. It was just bad football from a bad team.
Defense is allergic to turnovers apparently
We're now 10 games into the season and the Saints have... drum roll please... two interceptions! TWO. Both were made by Tyrann Mathieu, for what it's worth.
Even against a rookie quarterback who had thrown eight interceptions coming into this game, the Saints STILL can't manage to get an interception. Forcing turnovers is what made past Dennis Allen defenses so scary because they were able to do so with ease and take opportunities away from the opposition.
Trading C.J. Gardner-Johnson and letting Marcus Williams walk in free agency definitely didn't help this defense, as those two guys were huge turnover machines. It's been frustrating watching this team struggle to give their offense some extra possessions.
Trevor Penning, you're our only hope
Somehow I haven't mentioned the offensive line yet. Well, entering the game, they were without Erik McCoy and Andrus Peat so that led to Lewis Kidd playing left guard and Josh Andrews lining up at center. By the third quarter, James Hurst left the game with a concussion, which brought Landon Young in as the starting left tackle.
With all of that said, no one should be surprised at how poorly the offense played. Andy Dalton didn't have time to make the throws he needed to.
First-round pick Trevor Penning is hopefully going to be ready to return in a few weeks and his return couldn't come sooner. This team needs him badly.
All in all, the Saints were somehow still in this game in the fourth quarter but their lack of a healthy offensive line did them in. Poor coaching was also a major factor and now the Saints, at 3-7, still have a shot to win the NFC South but their chances of doing so are slipping away.