NEW ORLEANS -- Ben Roethlisberger torched New Orleans' defense for 148 yards and two touchdown passes on his first two series of this preseason, then got the rest of the game off while the Steelers rolled to a 27-14 victory over the Saints on Friday night.
Roethlisberger, who sat out of the first two preseason games, opened by leading a 14-play, 76-yard drive on which he converted two third downs and found tight end Jesse James for a 5-yard score. His next series was highlighted by his 57-yard scoring pass down the left sideline to Antonio Brown, also playing for the first time this preseason. The Steelers star finished with 12 completions on 17 attempts.
Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell also made his preseason debut, gaining 21 yards on three carries, but his lost fumble in the second quarter -- forced by cornerback Delvin Breaux and recovered by linebacker Dannell Ellerbe -- led to Drew Brees' only TD pass. Brees' strike went to Willie Snead, who made a difficult juggling catch as he landed on his back following a collision near the back of the end zone.
Brees had a difficult night behind a struggling offensive line. It didn't help that starting left tackle Terron Armstead left the field unexpectedly in the first half for undisclosed reasons. Brees completed 9 of 12 passes, but for only 78 yards. One of his better throws connected with newly acquired tight end Coby Fleener for 26 yards, but it was called back for holding on Armstead.
The Saints have dropped all three preseason games.
Steelers: Second-round pick Sean Davis started his third straight game as the slot cornerback. He's listed at safety but getting snaps at slot cornerback since an injury to 2015 second-round pick Senquez Golson. Rookie linebacker Tyler Matekavich, a seventh-round pick, intercepted Garrett Grayson late in the game. Rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave sacked Grayson. First-round pick Artie Burns, a cornerback, still has not played (left quadriceps).
Saints: Undrafted rookie receiver Tommylee Lewis, among the top playmakers in training camp, made a 31-yard TD catch from Grayson in the third quarter. Undrafted rookie cornerback De'Vante Harris was beaten over the top on Brown's long touchdown catch.
Steelers: Alejandro Villanueva started at left tackle for a third straight week and appears to have secured that spot over Ryan Harris, a nine-year veteran who won a Super Bowl with Denver last season. Veteran linebacker Arthur Moats started in place of Bud Dupree, who is working his way back from a groin injury.
Saints: Andurs Peat, New Orleans' top 2015 pick, started at right guard and did not play any snaps at tackle, as he had in the previous two games. Senio Kelemete started at left guard ahead of Tim Lelito, who later came in for Peat and Kelemete switched to the right side. The Saints did not have any field goal opportunities for Kai Forbath or Connor Barth.
Steelers: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert left in the first half with a right elbow injury. Cam Heyward hurt his right ankle, Jacob Hagen left with a right leg injury. Safety Shamarko Thomas left with a right groin injury.
Saints: Armstead left for undisclosed reasons. Michael Hoomanwanui, one of the Saints' top blocking tight ends, was unable to put weight on his left leg during the first quarter and had to be carted off. Running back Daniel Lasco, New Orleans' seventh-round pick, was shaken up by a helmet-to-helmet hit by Pittsburgh's Vince Williams, who was flagged for a person foul. The running back was down several minutes before walking to the sideline. Rookie defensive back Jimmy Pruitt was helped off the field in the fourth quarter with a right leg injury.
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