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Fresh off bye, Steelers look to snap skid vs. Saints

Oct 30, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (97) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a bye week.

The New Orleans Saints are coming off a short week.

Both struggling teams desperately need a win when they meet on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers (2-6) lost their last two games before the bye, falling to the Eagles 35-13 a week after falling to the Dolphins 16-10. But the last time they played at home they won, defeating Tampa Bay 20-18 on Oct. 16.

During the bye week, coach Mike Tomlin and his staff did some self-scouting since the offense, which is averaging 15 points per game and is tied for the fewest offensive touchdowns in the NFL (11), has naturally received a lot of scrutiny.

“We spent a lot of time talking about how we’re dividing the labor up and who we’re choosing to feature,” Tomlin said.

One player they will no longer feature is wide receiver Chase Claypool, who was traded to Chicago for a 2023 second-round draft choice during the bye week.

“When you go through a trade circumstance like we did with Chase, that creates a real avenue to have some of those discussions when it comes to distributing playmaking opportunities, who works what area of the field,” Tomlin said. “I feel really good about the work we were able to get done in that component.”

Pittsburgh is hoping to get a couple of key injured defenders back. Linebacker T.J. Watt (pectoral) and safety Damontae Kazee (arm and wrist) are on injured reserve but have returned to practice.

Kicker Chris Boswell (right groin), who missed the game against the Eagles, did not practice. The Steelers signed Matthew Wright off of Kansas City’s practice squad in case Boswell is unavailable.

The Saints (3-6) played their most complete game of the season when they beat visiting Las Vegas 24-0 two weeks ago. But they missed an opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time this season when they lost at home to Baltimore 27-13 on Monday night.

“We haven’t done it consistently enough where we’ve put offense, defense and special teams together,” coach Dennis Allen said, “We’ve had too many games where there has been a phase or two that hasn’t operated in a way that we think gives us an opportunity to win.”

New Orleans didn’t practice Wednesday but estimated that a few injured starters would not have been able to participate, such as cornerback Marshon Lattimore (abdomen), center Erik McCoy (calf), guard Andrus Peat (triceps) and linebacker Pete Werner (ankle). Wide receiver Jarvis Landry (ankle) would have been limited.

The Saints hope the day off will be refreshing. The performance against the Raiders came after a Thursday game when the team had three days off before returning to work.

“It’s all about your process,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “You’re just always refining the process. It’s coming in, putting the work in, learning your opponents, putting together a good game plan and then finding a way to go execute the game plan.

“The good thing is, we’re one week removed from putting it all together. This past one, we didn’t do that so well. So it’s about just getting back to it.”

–Field Level Media