NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees shook off some hard hits and figured out Pittsburgh's defense in time to make the defending champion Saints look like contenders again.
Brees passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints defeated the Steelers 20-10 Sunday night.
Brees was 20-of-22 for 191 yards in the second half, breaking open a defensive struggle.
"You know it's going to be fast and physical, and it was," Brees said.
Brees' first touchdown went to Marques Colston for 16 yards and the second for 8 yards to Lance Moore with 2:37 left.
Cornerback Leigh Torrence then intercepted Ben Roethlisberger to seal it for the Saints.
The Saints rediscovered the magic of last season a week after an embarrassing 30-17 loss at home to the scuffling Browns.
"We have a special group," Brees said. "I think we all knew that from the start. We just had to come out and prove it. It's a long season. It's a marathon. You're going to have your ups and downs."
Rashard Mendenhall had the only touchdown for Pittsburgh, a 38-yard run in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger was 17-of-28 for 195 yards in a matchup of the past two Super Bowl champions.
Brees was sacked twice and intercepted once, giving him 11 interceptions, as many as he had all of last season.
The Saints tried some trickery, to no avail. When they switched from a field goal to a passing alignment with backup quarterback Chase Daniel in the shotgun formation, Pittsburgh called timeout, and New Orleans settled for Garrett Hartley's 31-yard field goal to tie the score at 3.
In the third quarter, right tackle Zach Strief, who had reported as an eligible receiver, was wide open in the end zone but was unable to jump high enough to snag a short pass from Brees. Again, New Orleans had to settle for a field goal to go up 6-3.
Down 13-10, the Steelers quickly moved across midfield, only to lose the ball when tight end Heath Miller fumbled on a hit by linebacker Marvin Mitchell. Safety Darren Sharper scooped it up, returning the ball 11 yards to the New Orleans 45. That set up Brees' TD to Moore.