© St. Petersburg Times, published October 7, 2002
NEW ORLEANS -- Other teams killed Pittsburgh's will by spreading out its defense and slinging the ball all over the field.
The Saints looked at those tapes, saw how other teams were having success against the Steelers and threw that idea out the window. Instead, they used their balanced attack, got a lead and held on for a 32-29 win.
Saints coach Jim Haslett and offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy wanted running back Deuce McAllister to handle the ball, but also sensed the possibilities for quarterback Aaron Brooks.
"Mike and I thought to be successful, we would have to run the ball," Haslett said. "We spread them out a little bit, but we tried to pack them in there and cover up their two best players, who are their outside linebackers (Jason Gildon and Joey Porter)."
Aside from a second-quarter flurry by Gildon, the Saints were successful. McAllister ran for 123 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown.
Brooks completed 14 of 24 for 207 yards and a touchdown to Jerome Pathon. The Saints had two touchdowns on three trips inside the Steelers' 20-yard line, snapping a streak of 11 straight touchdowns inside the red zone.
The Saints' running game carried the day. They used it jump to a 13-0 lead, a big departure from the previous two weeks when they fell behind 20-0 against Chicago and Detroit.
"You can run your offense," McAllister said. "You can definitely depend on running the ball. Defenses can't tee off on you."
The Saints built their lead on Pathon's 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also had a 64-yard catch in the second quarter that set up a 1-yard McAllister leap into the end zone.
McAllister's first touchdown made the score 19-7 and answered a long Steelers drive punctuated by Plaxico Burress' 20-yard score from Tommy Maddox.
Maddox, the Most Valuable Player in the XFL's lone season, was 22 of 38 for 268 yards and three touchdowns in his first NFL start in 10 years.
"I thought Tommy did fine," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "I would like to see how this offense would work if we ever had a lead."