So the Hall of Fame game has come and gone, and the football season is now OFFICIALLY getting close! Now that we have some actual games with some guys going full or close to full speed, it just feels so much more exciting. Anyway, I didn't catch the whole game, but here are my thoughts on our future competition and otherwise. All of this information is probaby worthless since a) its pittsburgh and NO and b) its preseason. But who cares, if you're interested, read away Pittsburgh: Big Ben looks back to normal form. He looked excited, in tune with his team, and ready to go. He had a nice little bootleg that didn't really materialize that he still turned into a 55 yard bomb to Cedric Wilson. The pass was a little short, but still good enough to allow Wilson to catch it. If he had led him just a little better, it could have been a touchdown. He would have been a perfect 3-3, but his 2nd pass hit a guy square in the hands and he dropped it. Willie Parker didn't play, so we got a chance to look at some of the backup Steeler RBs. Davenport looked pretty good, and broke through about 2-3 tackles on a nice TD run. The guy that really stuck out to me was this bruiser, who I think was named Davis. He ran a lot like Bettis, shoulders down, square to the field, knocking guys out of the way. He also had a nice burst, gaining 20ish yards on a screen play. I didn't see Hines Ward do anything, if he was even playing, but Cedric Wilson looked great. He had an incredible route on the 2nd or 3rd play of the game where he ran a hitch and go that was coupled to a PA bootleg, and just burned McKenzie the Saints corner. It ended in a 55 yard gain. The next set of down he had a slant route over the middle for another 20. I didn't see it in person, but I heard that Santonio Holmes had a pretty nice TD grab early in the 2nd. The OL for the Steelers looked pretty reliable. They gave up 3 sacks, but 2 that I saw were becuause one of the backups decided to sit in the pocket for 10 seconds. Their RG looked especially good, as on a sweep to the left, he made it all the way around the line to seal off the DE. It was executed perfectly. He moved really well in space, too, as he was out there blocking LBs on screen passes Defensively, the Steelers were right on. Taylor looks back to form as a reliable CB, and Polamalu was his normal self--all over the field. Their new rookie LB, Woodley I think, made an awesome play over the middle to bat down a Brees pass. He was supposedly drafted as a pass rusher, but he showed some nice coverage skills on that one. Their run defense was pretty stifling, but they let Bush slip through them 2 times on his only 2 rushes. Their special teams look like they could use a little help, as the blocking on punt returns was attrocious, and overall just didn't look good. New Orleans: Drew Brees looked lost. He seemed a little rushed, and his throws were in traffic. I didn't see him throw to an open receiver on any of this throws. His sole completion to Colston was on a nice come back route where Colston was hit immediately. He almost got picked off once, and had other balls batted down or out of the receivers hands. Maybe he didn't want to show much, but he looked pretty bad to me. Bush looked pretty good. I know his stats don't say much, 2 rushes for 8 yards, but he looked pretty good in both of those. Neither was fancy, but in both cases, the defense was in the backfield at the time of the handoff. On the first run, he outran the DL guy that had broken through the line, and got about 2-3 extra yards with a little stutter step at the end. There were about 4 Steelers around him, but he had them hesitate just enough. On his other run, he swept left and was immediately surrounded by about 4 Steelers. He started to reverse field, changed his mind, and gained about 2 or 3 yards right up the middle. It was very clear to me that he has made progress since his rookie season. Reggie Bush last year would have changed directions and lost 5-10 yards. This time he took what he could get and settled for a 3 yard gain. On his only passing attempt, Brees led him right into a defender where the ball was promply kocked away. Chalk it up to a bad pass or bad route. The other receivers didn't look like much to me. Henderson never seemed to be in on a play, and I didn't take much notice of anyone else. Their OL didn't look like the dominant force it was last year. I saw penetration early and often, and I think it hurt the running game and passing game. The real news is their defense, particularly their pass defense. Their run defense gave up solid chunks of yardage, and then stuffed it. It was an on again off again thing. Their pass defense was giving up big plays left and right. I don't even know how many 20+ yarders I saw last night. I saw McKenzie, the CB, get burned at LEAST 2 times. That was embarassing. Their safeties were out of position, and their tackling was less than desireable. I'd be quite worried if I was the DC. In conclusion, its preseason. None of these probably mean anything, but who knows. I think the big story of the night was Mike Tomlin. I like this guy a lot. He had his players fired up, even though it was preaseson. And he won an important game in getting his troops to buy into his philosophy. Meanwhile, it looked like the Saints took a nonchalant "hey we almost made it to the superbowl" attitude, and didn't want to show too much this early. If so, thats cool too. If you are a Saints fan, lets hope thats the case. PS: Tomlin had an awesome quote in his interview. The guy asked him if he felt a lot of pressure to fill teh shoes of previous great Steelers HCs. Tomlin calmly replied, "Pressure is working 2 jobs to feed your family. We're playing a game out here." Awesome, and way to put it into perspective.