The official unofficial NFL season began yesterday as the make-believe version of the Pittsburgh Steelers thumped the pretend New Orleans Saints 20-7 in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH.
The game did not count and little new information was revealed. The Steelers are a good defensive team with some problems on offense, and the Saints are a good offensive team with a terrible, terrible D. As is often the case in the early preseason, the Saints first-team O was too out of sync to make a dent in the Steelers first-team D, while the mediocre Steeler offense looked pretty good against the overmatched Saints defensive unit.
Most of the points worth making about the two teams could have been made before the game, the key one being that Pittsburgh is starting the year with a small running back who isn't much use in the passing game, and that running back happens to be sitting out with a knee injury. That's bad news and a sign that the Steelers aren't likely to return to their exemplary 2005 form this season.
As for the Saints, the big news from the game was that center Jeff Faine (a former Cleveland Brown) left the game with a leg injury whose severity has not yet been disclosed. Faine is probably cemented as the starter, so it's likely he'll miss most of the preseason regardless of the seriousness of the injury.