Steelers vs. Saints score, takeaways: Pittsburgh stifles New Orleans with defense, dominant ground game

It took nine games, but the Steelers looked the way they had hoped to look all season long in Sunday's 20-10 win over the Saints. Pittsburgh unleashed a dominant defense that welcomed back the return of T.J. Watt. The defense forced two big second-half turnovers, while Kenny Pickett and the Steelers' offense did enough to earn Pittsburgh's third win of the season, and the rookie quarterback's second victory in the NFL. 

Damontae Kazee, starting in place of the injured Minkah Fitzpatrick, recorded a key pick of Saints quarterback Andy Dalton with the Steelers protecting a 13-10 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter. The pick set up Pickett's third rushing touchdown of the season. Levi Wallace's pick on the Saints next drive ended any thoughts of a Saints comeback. 

After an early lead, the Steelers found themselves in a 10-10 tie with the visiting Saints at intermission. The Steelers struck first when George Pickens scored from a yard out on a jet sweep with 5:06 left in the first quarter. Pittsburgh added to its lead when Matthew Wright booted a 44-yard field goal less than a minute into the second quarter. Wright's field goal was set up by Najee Harris' 36-yard run, the Steelers longest run of the season to this point. 

New Orleans responded with two unanswered scores before halftime. Down 10-3, the Saints tied the score when Dalton hit tight end Juwan Johnson on a 15-yard pass with 19 seconds before halftime. Dalton enjoyed a solid first half, as the former Pro Bowler threw for 129 yards on 12-of-16 passing. 

Dalton and the Saints offense was unable to keep pace in the second half, however, as the Steelers' defense came up with two interceptions and a turnover on downs on three consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter. Conversely, the Steelers' offense had a monster game on the ground as Pittsburgh ran for a season-high 217 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries. 

Here's a closer look at what transpired in Pittsburgh. 

Why the Steelers won 

Pittsburgh played its best game of the season on both sides of the ball. The Steelers largely had their way with the Saints' offense despite not having Fitzpatrick in the secondary.  The Steelers' offense put together the franchise's first 200-yard game since Le'Veon Bell ran for a franchise record 236 yards back in December of 2016. Najee Harris ran for a season-high 99 yards, while Pickett ran for an additional 51 of yards while completing 18 of 30 passes without committing a turnover. 

Why the Saints lost

New Orleans' inability to run the ball (they gained just 29 yards on 15 carries) and stop the run greatly contributed to the loss. Ten penalties, two late-game turnovers and going just 3 of 12 on third down also played significant roles in New Orleans losing its seventh game of the season. 

Turning point 

It was anyone's game late in the third quarter, after Wright suffered his first of two missed field-goal attempts in the second half following Pittsburgh's first drive of the half. The Steelers' defense responded to the miss by forcing a punt after a penalty and a Dalton fumble short-circuited the drive. Pittsburgh took the lead for good on its ensuing drive after Pickett hit Diontae Johnson for a 36-yard gain. The big completion set up Wright's 33-yard field goal, giving the Steelers a 13-10 lead just over a minute into the final stanza. 

Play of the game 

Four missed interception opportunities contributed to the Steelers' one-score loss three weeks ago in Miami. It was a different story on Sunday, as the Steelers came up with two big interceptions that helped seal the win. The first was pulled down by Kazee, who was recently activated to the active roster after suffering an injury during Pittsburgh's final preseason game. 

Pickett hit fellow rookie Jaylen Warren for a 26-yard gain two plays after Kazee's pick. Pickett hit Warren again a few plays later to convert a third down before Pickett's short touchdown run put the game on ice. 

Quotable 

"The O-line was unbelievable. Those guys stuck with it. They worked hard on the bye week and obviously this week getting prepared for it. And then Najee and Jaylen did what they do best. We have two really talented backs. We kind of leaned on those guys. I thought we had really good balance today. They did a great job in the passing game as well. 

"In all phases, I thought we took a step in the right direction today." — Pickett when asked what they key was to the Steelers' successful running game 

What's next 

Pittsburgh will stay at home, where it will host AFC North rival Cincinnati. The Steelers upset the defending AFC champions back in Week 1 behind Minkah Fitzpatrick's stellar effort that led to him winning Defensive Player of the Week. The Bengals, after an 0-2 start, went into their Week 10 bye with a 5-4 record on the strength of an improved offense and an exceptional defense. 

Next Sunday's game against the Rams is the Saints' only home game during a four-game span that started Sunday in Pittsburgh. The defending champion Rams have a losing record so far as they try to find a consistent playmaker alongside Cooper Kupp. 

Live updates
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Steelers win 20-10 to move to 3-6 on the season. The Saints fall to 3-7 and two games behind the Tampa for first place in the NFC South. 

November 13, 2022, 8:53 PM
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Jaylen Warren hurdles for a first down, as the Steelers can now salt the remainder of the game clock. 

November 13, 2022, 8:51 PM
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Another pick by Levi Wallace, as the Steelers get their second pick of the half. A big turnaround for the Steelers' defense today after the unit missed four interception chances against the Dolphins three weeks ago. 

November 13, 2022, 8:44 PM
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Saints defense holds, and Matthew Wright badly misses his 48-yard attempt. Score remains 20-10 with 5:33 left. 

November 13, 2022, 8:41 PM
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Dalton stuffed on his QB sneak attempt by Robert Spillane. Steelers take over deep in Saints territory. Pittsburgh with close this game out with a TD here. 

November 13, 2022, 8:36 PM
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Nice breakup by Levi Wallace as the Saints now trying to overcome a two-score deficit. 

November 13, 2022, 8:34 PM
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Pickett scores on the next play, as the Steelers stretch their lead to 20-10 with 8:38 left. Kazee's pick turns into points. 

November 13, 2022, 8:29 PM
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Holding call against the Saints gives Pittsburgh a first-and-goal at the 1. Penalties have been a huge issue for the Saints today. 

November 13, 2022, 8:29 PM
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Warren's second effort on another catch gives the Steelers a first and goal with under 10 minutes left. 

November 13, 2022, 8:26 PM
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Pickett takes his check down on the next play and it pays off, as Jaylen Warren picks up 26 yards down the near sideline. 

November 13, 2022, 8:25 PM
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Kazee picks off Dalton after Jarvis Landry wasn't able to secure Dalton's pass. Kazee is starting in place of Minkah Fitzpatrick. Najee Harris fumbles on the next play but Pittsburgh able to pounce on it. 

November 13, 2022, 8:23 PM
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Steelers commit a penalty on third down, but Pickett was tackled for a short gain, so Saints decline. Wright's 33-yard kick is good, giving the Steelers a 13-10 lead. 

November 13, 2022, 8:16 PM
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We head to the fourth quarter with the score still tied 10-10. Steelers will have a second and 7 on the Saints' 17 when play resumes. 

November 13, 2022, 8:12 PM
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Big downfield catch to Diontae Johnson. Might be the Steelers longest completion of the Steelers to this point and an impressive throw by Pickett. A 36-yard gain and Steelers back in the red zone. Might be more aggressive this time in the red zone after Wright missed his field goal on the previous drive. 

November 13, 2022, 8:11 PM
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With Heath Miller in the house, Freiermuth makes a one-handed catch to extend the Steelers' drive. 

November 13, 2022, 8:08 PM
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Kenny Pickett back in the game after getting his left ankle heavily taped between drives. 

November 13, 2022, 8:06 PM
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Saints have to punt after a promising start to the drive. Fumbled snap by Dalton led to the drive fizzling out. Saints get a really nice bounce on the punt that lands just inside the 5-yard-line before going out of bounds. 

November 13, 2022, 8:03 PM
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Dalton hits Olave for a 14-yard gain on third and long. Olave having success vs. veteran CB Levi Wallace. 

November 13, 2022, 8:00 PM
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Steelers turned back in the red zone and miss a FG, so the score remains 10-10. A sack by David Onyemata on first down helped the Saints force a FG attempt after Pittsburgh reached the red zone with relative ease. 

November 13, 2022, 7:56 PM
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Two big plays for Pickens and the Steelers are just outside the red zone. Pickens emergence is one of the reasons why the Steelers were comfortable trading Chase Claypool. 

November 13, 2022, 7:51 PM
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Big first down run for Kenny Pickett gives the Steelers a first down near the 40-yard-line. So the Steelers have had their two longest runs of the season in this game. 

November 13, 2022, 7:49 PM
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OPI on Jarvis Landry short circuits the Saints first drive of the second half. Dalton has consecutive incomplete passes to end the drive. Nice coverage by Terrell Edmunds on Dalton's third down incompletion to TE Adam Trautman on the near side. 

November 13, 2022, 7:45 PM
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Saints get the ball to start the second half. Saints started to find their rhythm in the air at the end of the first half. Let's see if they get more going on the ground with Kamara. 

November 13, 2022, 7:41 PM
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Halftime stats

Score: Tied at 10 

First downs: Steelers 12-9

Third down: Saints 2-6, Steelers 3-8

Total yards: Steelers 155-143

Sacks: Saints 1, Steelers 3

Red zone: Saints 1-1, Steelers 1-2

TOP: Steelers 17:43 

Pickett: 11/19, 91 yards, three sacks

Harris: 8 carries, 55 yards

Dalton: 12/16, 129 yards, 1 TD

Kamara: 5 carries, 21 yards; 2 catches, 9 yards 

Johnson: 3 catches, 27 yards

Pickens: 2 catches, 20 yards 

November 13, 2022, 7:31 PM
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Saints tie the score as Dalton hits Juwan Johnson for the score. Johnson took advantage of a coverage breakdown as Robert Spillane didn't go with Johnson and his safety help was late. 

November 13, 2022, 7:23 PM
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Kazee drills Olave on the far sideline as he was close to securing the catch. The hit was flagged and gives the Saints a first down in the red zone. Olave seems OK after the big hit. 

November 13, 2022, 7:22 PM
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Steelers are going to get flagged for kick catch interference. James Pierre inadvertently bumped into Shaheed, giving the Saints an extra 15 yards and the ball on 29 to start the drive. 

November 13, 2022, 7:19 PM
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