The Pittsburgh Steelers played at 4:25 on Sunday in Week 16, and they knew a lot about their playoff situation when the game vs. the New Orleans Saints started. The Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts all winning meant the pressure was on for the visiting team.
Win, and remain in control of your own destiny.
Lose, and pray the Ravens lose next week vs. the Cleveland Browns...or it is all over.
With that said, with the Metrodome rocking, the Steelers elected to receive the opening kickoff, but were able to muster only one first down before Jordan Berry was called on to punt the ball back to Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense. After two first downs, the Saints put Taysom Hill in at quarterback, something they do often, and Hill went deep to Ted Ginn but was intercepted by Sean Davis.
Big time players make big time plays. pic.twitter.com/Nmejgc9uVZ— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 23, 2018
Davis’ return out of the endzone resulted in a horse collar personal foul, giving Pittsburgh the ball at their 40-yard line. After several first down throws to JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers’ drive stalled on a failed 3rd and 1 pass to Antonio Brown resulted in negative yards. Chris Boswell was called on to kick a 49-yard field goal, and he split the uprights to give Pittsburgh an early 3-0 lead.
Controversy struck on the next drive as Brees moved the Saints into Steelers’ territory, but Mark Ingram was stuffed on a 3rd and 2 on the edge of field goal range. Sean Payton decided to go for it, and Brees targeted Alvin Kamara deep in the endzone when Joe Haden had a phantom pass interference called on him, giving New Orleans the ball at the one-yard line. Ingram plunged into the endzone on the next play to give the Saints the 7-3 lead.
The Steelers, after a completion to Vance McDonald, were driving deep into Saints territory at the end of the first quarter.