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mesaSteeler
12-07-2008, 11:45 PM
Steelers ride superb defense past 'Boys -- to Super Bowl?
Dec. 7, 2008
By Pete Prisco
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/11158251

PITTSBRUGH -- The standard of great defense, a tradition that includes many defenders with busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, makes it tough for the modern-day Pittsburgh Steelers defenders to grasp the talk of greatness as it refers to them.

"Great?" Steelers linebacker James Farrior said shockingly when the word was mentioned in reference to this year's defense. "We've got a long way to go to start with that kind of talk."

Not really. They proved it again Sunday in their 20-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field. On a day when their offense was dreadful, the defense saved the day by limiting the Cowboys' high-flying offense to 13 points, but also scoring the game-winning points on a 26-yard interception for a touchdown by Deshea Townsend with 1:40 left in the game.

You want a stat to prove the greatness of this defense, one that not even the great defenses of the Steel Curtain can top:

This unit has not allowed a team to gain 300 yards in a game this season. The Cowboys flirted with it, but left 11 yards shy with 289. The record for consecutive games without allowing 300 yards is 14, which was set by the 1973 Los Angeles Rams.

My guess is the Steelers have a good chance to tie that next week at Baltimore, which isn't exactly an offensive machine and is already one of the 13 victims on the list.

"We're angry we allowed 13 points to the Cowboys," Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "We didn't tackle as well as we know we can. We let them score a touchdown on a play that we should have had a sack. We're not pleased at all with giving up 13 points."

This defense is becoming more special by the week and could be good enough to carry the Steelers to the Super Bowl. If the Tennessee Titans don't watch out, the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC just might go through Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are 10-3 and play the Titans in two weeks in Nashville. If they can beat the Ravens, beat the Titans and beat the Cleveland Browns in the last game of the season, the Titans would have to win their other remaining two games to sew up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

"Finish the deal, finish the deal," Farrior said. "Unless we finish the deal, like those other great defenses did, none of this will matter. To be considered great, we have to finish the deal."

The defense finished this deal against the Cowboys. In fact, the defense should stand up and take credit for winning it. The Steelers offense was dreadful for most of the day, totaling 238 yards. The Cowboys used the game to show off their defense and they got after Ben Roethlisberger, who was sacked five times and ran for his life many other times, and made the Pittsburgh offense hear a chorus of boos from the home crowd several times.

The Steelers were also stopped on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 when Gary Russell was dropped for a 2-yard loss with 12:20 left in the game and the Cowboys winning 13-3. It was a shock that coach Mike Tomlin opted to eschew the field goal to make it a touchdown lead, but he must have known his defense could bail him out.

They did, as usual.

After one first down, they forced a Dallas punt. That led to a 41-yard field goal by Jeff Reed to make it 13-6. On the next Cowboys possession, the Steelers forced a three-and-out and the Pittsburgh offense took the ball and drove ahead for their only touchdown, that coming on a 6-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Heath Miller.

That's when the defense won the game. On second-and-8 from the Dallas 17, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, the mastermind of the entire 3-4 zone-blitz scheme, called for a Cover-3 defense. That meant umbrella coverage across the secondary. It meant Townsend, the nickel corner, would be facing Romo instead of in the slot running with a receiver with his back to the quarterback.

It was the only time LeBeau called that defense all game long. Talk about timing.

"I guess he knew," Townsend said of the call.

LeBeau could have only dreamed about what happened. Romo, who was wild high all day long, overshot Jason Witten and the ball landed in the arms of Townsend, who gathered it in, took off down the left sideline, and dove in for the score and the victory.

Townsend's role is a perfect example of how the Steelers always seem to have someone different stepping up and making plays on this defense. He opened the season as a starter, lost his job to an injury, and now fills the role of the extra defensive back.

It happened on the right day, too. His father and three brothers were in the stands. Why? They all grew up in Mississippi as Cowboys fans -- Deshea included.

"I was just looking at Romo and saw the ball go over Witten's head and I just made a play," Townsend said. "It is good that it happened against the Cowboys with my family here."

The defense had four takeaways and had three fourth-down stops of the Cowboys, including two big ones in the first half.

They were faced with extra pressure because they received no help from their offense, which was really an eyesore all day long. After the game, Tomlin was asked about his "terrible" offense.

"Terrible is a strong word," Tomlin said.

Maybes so, but it was deadly accurate. Aside from their wake-up call in the fourth quarter, the Steelers had just 163 yards of offense. Roethlisberger finished the game 17 of 33 for 204 yards. The rushing attack, normally a strong suit of the Steelers, had 70 yards on 27 carries and 17 of that came on Roethlisberger scrambles.

They can't win it all with that type of offense, no matter how well the defense plays.

Then again, maybe they can look back at the 1976 Steelers defense for a reference on how good they need to be to get close to a Super Bowl.

With the 1976 Steelers offense fighting injuries, the defense took over and carried the team to the AFC Championship Game. It had five shutouts in the final nine games and gave up 3.1 points per game, arguably the greatest span of dominance by a defense ever.

This year's Pittsburgh defense is allowing 14.1 points per game, best in the league. In the past four games, they've given up a total of 43 points with Dallas' 13 being the highest one-game total in that stretch.

It's no wonder some of those defensive players weren't all that happy late Sunday as they dressed, surprisingly so. This is a unit that strives for perfection, which means no points allowed.

It's also why they won't allow the word great to be thrown around just yet.

"Way more work to do," Woodley said. "We know the history here. To be considered in the same class with the great ones we have to win it all. If not, whatever we do will mean nothing."

Somehow you get the feeling that come January it could mean something -- maybe even a trip to Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII.

BrandonCarr39
12-08-2008, 04:02 AM
Of all the other teams-Indy is hot right now, they're getting healthy to boot, and Peyton is getting in rhythm. However-as for the other teams...

Tennessee-unless Collins proves he can make plays other than checkdowns, they're one and done.

Jets-they've fallen back to earth. I guess all that premature Super Bowl hype was too much.

Denver-they don't even have a defense.

Baltimore-give Flacco another year or 2...otherwise, he's not ready for the spotlight yet.

Pats-hey, they're cheaters w/o a doubt, but give them credit for weathering all their injury storms this year and being in the thick of things. They'll prolly be 1 and done anyways though.

So yeah, it looks like for now, the Steelers are the favorites.

Galax Steeler
12-08-2008, 04:41 AM
That was a dream interception by Townsend and returning it for a touchdown made it that much better LeBeau is the best at what he does he has that deffense a cliking hopefully we will take it to Baltimore and get after Flacco.

jjpro11
12-08-2008, 04:47 AM
Of all the other teams-Indy is hot right now, they're getting healthy to boot, and Peyton is getting in rhythm. However-as for the other teams...

Tennessee-unless Collins proves he can make plays other than checkdowns, they're one and done.

Jets-they've fallen back to earth. I guess all that premature Super Bowl hype was too much.

Denver-they don't even have a defense.

Baltimore-give Flacco another year or 2...otherwise, he's not ready for the spotlight yet.

Pats-hey, they're cheaters w/o a doubt, but give them credit for weathering all their injury storms this year and being in the thick of things. They'll prolly be 1 and done anyways though.

So yeah, it looks like for now, the Steelers are the favorites.

indy would get crushed on the road in weather conditions like today, whether its in pittsburgh or tennessee. i hope to hell they come back to pittsburgh in january without a running game and a susceptible defense. we lost to them in 05 then came back and beat them.. we'll do it again on our home turf. im still pissed we lost that game.. tipped ball td, bens throws, disgusting.

stlrtruck
12-08-2008, 03:26 PM
Forget the Super Bowl chatter right now. Seems any time that that type of talk comes up, the Steelers come up with a lack-luster performance!

First step - beat down on the ratbirds.

St33lersguy
12-08-2008, 05:19 PM
Unless the D plays superhuman the O needs improvement

St33lersguy
12-08-2008, 05:23 PM
Of all the other teams-Indy is hot right now, they're getting healthy to boot, and Peyton is getting in rhythm. However-as for the other teams...

Tennessee-unless Collins proves he can make plays other than checkdowns, they're one and done.

Jets-they've fallen back to earth. I guess all that premature Super Bowl hype was too much.

Denver-they don't even have a defense.

Baltimore-give Flacco another year or 2...otherwise, he's not ready for the spotlight yet.

Pats-hey, they're cheaters w/o a doubt, but give them credit for weathering all their injury storms this year and being in the thick of things. They'll prolly be 1 and done anyways though.

So yeah, it looks like for now, the Steelers are the favorites.

Don't forget the Dolphins are actually 8-5 although if they make it in they'll probably be too overexcited about being in the playoffs to focus on winning a playoff game

Dino 6 Rings
12-08-2008, 06:03 PM
HA!

All I care about is that the Defense is mad they gave up 13 points.

Yes, maybe we'll get lucky and we'll get a fine this week for hitting someone too hard just to fuel the flames of our anger!

stillers4me
12-08-2008, 07:31 PM
Unless the D plays superhuman the O needs improvement

I think our D is already there. :wink02:

Seriously, I think they are so stoked, nothing is going to stop them. Not even some dirty ratbirds.

kingkulsteel
12-08-2008, 07:35 PM
The O just needs to catch up to the D

stillers4me
12-08-2008, 07:41 PM
The O just needs to catch up to the D

At least halfway. :chuckle: