Steelers' defense no match for Saints


PITTSBURGH -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Pittsburgh Steelers' 35-32 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

  • Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau looked a little dazed as he walked through a tunnel that led to the coaches and players' exit at Heinz Field -- and for good reason. Strong safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor returned to the starting lineup from their respective injuries, and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham did not catch a pass against the Steelers. That did not stop the Saints from lighting up the Steelers for 257 passing yards and 5.5 yards per carry. Polamalu said the Steelers did not pay too much attention to Graham, who did not have a pass thrown his way, at the expense of stopping the run. “Our game plan is always to stop the run first, and as you can see, when we don't do that, the floodgates open,” said Polamalu, who had missed the previous two games due to a sprained knee. The Saints rushed for 143 yards, including 122 from Mark Ingram.

  • Coach Mike Tomlin said during a brief -- and at times terse -- postgame news conference that the Steelers fell to 7-5 in large part because the offense and defense did not play well off each other. The offense managed just two field goals in the first 16 minutes of the game, despite dominating time of possession. The defense couldn't consistently get off the field any time the Steelers pulled closer to the Saints after New Orleans had seized control of the game. “This is an absolute team loss. It's not just on one person. We all didn't play well,” free safety Mike Mitchell said. “When we were getting stops, we weren't scoring. When we were scoring, we weren't getting stops.”

  • Le'Veon Bell became the first Steelers player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Rashard Mendenhall in 2010, and the second-year running back had another huge game from a statistical standpoint. In his first game since rushing for a career-high 204 yards, Bell established career bests in yards from scrimmage (254) and receiving yards (159). His running and especially his running after the catch were only enough for the Steelers to make the final score close. “We made a lot of mistakes. Turnovers were huge for us,” Bell said. “We've got to work on not hurting ourselves.”