The Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints were in search of the first, albeit meaningless, preseason win of the 2016 season, and it was the Steelers who left the "Big Easy" with their first preseason win after a dominating 27-14 performance.
However, even after games as good as this one, there were players who deserve praise, and some who deserve to be tagged a 'loser'. See who falls into which category as the team heads into Week 4 of the preseason.
Want to feel better about yourself? Just go back and watch Ben Roethlisberger dissect the Saints defense for the first two series. He was dominant, and directed the offense like everyone expected he would once he got a chance to play this preseason. 12/17, 148 yards, 8.7 average, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and a 136.4 passer rating. Yeah, nice day at the office.
Brown and Roethlisberger are on a different level, and as Roethlisberger said on the sideline in the second half, he could probably throw to Brown on every play. Rather, he threw him the ball 4 times, and Brown had 4 receptions for 87 yards and a 56-yard touchdown reception. 21.8 yard average is stunning on 4 catches, and just think what he could have done if he was in the game for 4 quarters.
The stat line might not scream 'awesome', but he was dominant. 2 tackles, 1 solo, and 2 quarterback hits was what Tuitt did on the gridiron Friday night, but the way he took over plays is exactly what fans have been expecting from the Notre Dame product heading into his 3rd NFL season. If Heyward and Tuitt can remain healthy, this could be one heck of a one-two punch along the team's defensive line.
Landry Jones and Sammie Coates
Jones and Coates have had a rough preseason. Whether it was Coates' two fumbles and drops, or Jones' failure to put points on the board and 4 INTs last week, they both rebounded nicely. Coates ended the day with 2 catches for 66-yards, with a long of 58 -yards, and a touchdown. Jones had himself a nice night going 19/22 for 206 yards, 9.4 average, 1 TD and 0 INTs with a 120.8 passer rating. Nothing like a quality performance to put things into perspective, from a preseason standpoint.
Hard to put this man in the losers column, but the team would be the loser if his ankle injury proves to be serious. There were positive signs, and he will have 16 days to heal up before the team kicks off the regular season.
Again, when a game is played as well as the one the Steelers played, sometimes injuries are your only losers. Thomas was injured early in the game, and you have to wonder how serious the groin is, and if it might impact his roster status for the 2016 season.
The cornerback play has improved a lot, in my opinion. They are fast, aggressive, athletic and "tackle the catch", but their angles and tackling could use some tweaking before the games begin. Missed tackles can doom a team, and it seems to be a growing trend in the team's secondary this preseason.