Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger directed two touchdown drives before heading to the bench, completing scoring passes to tight end Jesse James and wide receiver Antonio Brown, to lift the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 27-14 preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints Friday night at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Playing for the first time since January, Roethlisberger looked exceptionally sharp on the Steelers' 76-yard, 15-play opening drive, going 8-of-12 for 60 yards and picking up six first downs. He got the payoff by buying an extra second in the pocket and finding James slipping free over the middle for a 5-yard score. The Steelers' last 14 plays came without a huddle.
Roethlisberger wasted little time on Pittsburgh's next possession, spotting Brown in man coverage in the slot against rookie corner De'Vante Harris on third-and-3 from the Steelers' 43. Roethlisberger threw a soft rainbow down the left sidelines to Brown, who easily out-jumped Harris for the ball and ran 57 yards untouched for the score, putting the Steelers up 14-0.
By that time, Roethlisberger was 12-of-17 for 148 yards, and he was done for the night. Landry Jones came in and completed all four of his passes on Pittsburgh's third drive, which ended at the Saints' 22 with a Le'Veon Bell fumble.
Drew Brees finally got the Saints on the board in the second quarter with a 17-yard pass to Willie Snead, who juggled the ball before making a circus catch on the rebound while flat on his back. The score capped a 12-play, 78-yard drive and drew the Saints within 14-7. Brees finished 9-of-12 for 78 yards.
Jones' 8-yard scoring pass to wide open Sammie Coates gave the Steelers a 21-7 lead just before the half.
Saints' third-string quarterback Garrett Grayson cut it to 21-14 with a 31-yard pass to Tommylee Lewis midway through the third quarter. Chris Boswell's 40-yard field goal extended the Steelers' lead to 24-14 and added a 48-yarder to make it 27-14.
The game appeared costly in terms of injuries. Saints starting left tackle Terron Armstead left the field with a first-quarter injury after committing a holding penalty. Backup tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was carted off the field in the first quarter after sustaining a lower left leg injury. Rookie running back Daniel Lasco took a huge hit on a helmet-to-helmet tackle by linebacker Vince Williams in the fourth quarter but walked with assistance to the locker room.
The Steelers lost at least three players: starting defensive end Cameron Heyward (right foot/ankle), starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert (elbow) and backup safety Seamark Thomas (groin).