View Full Version : Playoffs await dominating Steelers defense

12-29-2008, 05:23 PM
Playoffs await dominating Steelers defense
By ALAN ROBINSON, AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson, Ap Sports Writer 14 mins ago

PITTSBURGH The Pittsburgh Steelers' defense wasn't only the NFL's best this season, it was one of the best statistically in league history. A scant 55 yards prevented the Steelers from accomplishing something no defense has done since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

If Cleveland's Jamal Lewis hadn't rushed for 94 yards during Pittsburgh's meaningless 31-0 victory Sunday, the Steelers might have become the first team since the merger to lead the NFL in the four major defensive statistics: total, rushing and passing defense and fewest points allowed.

The Steelers finished with significant edges in three categories their 237.2 yards per game average is the lowest since the 1991 Eagles gave up 221.8 but they allowed 54 more yards rushing than the Vikings.

Still, the Steelers (12-4) know what that means as they begin preparing for their divisional playoff game Jan. 11.

"It's what we've been saying, win the Super Bowl and 20 years from now they're really going to talk about you," linebacker Larry Foote said. "(Like) what the Bears did in 1985 and what the Ravens did in 2000. I remember they were showing stats on TV that the (1978) Rams had one of the best defenses, and I didn't know that. It goes to show you've got to win the Super Bowl to be remembered."

The 1991 Eagles aren't widely recalled as a great defense, Foote said, because they didn't make the playoffs that season.

These Steelers compare favorably to what many historians rate as the best defense in NFL history, the 1976 Steelers. That team shut out five of its final nine opponents and allowed only 28 points during that span, or barely a field goal per game.

The 2008 Steelers gave up slightly fewer yards on average than the 1976 team, 237.2 to 237.4, and fewer rushing yards, 80.2 to 104.1, but permitted more passing yards, 156.9 to 133.3, partly because of philosophical and strategical changes in the game. These Steelers yielded 13.93 points per game to the 1976 team's 9.9.

"I'm quite sure after the season, after the Super Bowl, we're going to think about that a lot more," Foote said. "Right now, we're just trying to get that Super Bowl to make it even more special for our defense."

Even while playing a difficult schedule that included the Ravens, Titans, Giants, Colts, Cowboys, Chargers and Patriots, the Steelers had few letdowns while permitting only one opponent to score as many as 25 points and holding eight to 10 points or less. Their 31-14 loss at Tennessee on Dec. 21 prevented them from being top-seeded throughout the AFC playoffs.

"Getting 12 wins is important. I remember people saying we weren't going to do very well this year because of our schedule," Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu said. "But everybody knows we're going into the part of the season where records don't matter any more. So that's where it's really positive we have a playoff-experienced team."

The Steelers reached the postseason for the sixth time in the eight seasons they have played in Heinz Field and the fourth time in five seasons. Since the stadium opened, they've won the Super Bowl once and reached the AFC championship three times.

Last season, they were a sagging team going into the playoffs after losing three of their last four, and they had only five days off after the season ended before losing to Jacksonville 31-29 in the playoffs.

This season, they're peaking with six victories in seven games and will have 13 full days off before playing the highest-seeded team remaining after the wild card weekend. If the Dolphins beat the Ravens at home Sunday, the Steelers will play Miami; if the Ravens win, the Steelers will play the Colts-Chargers winner.

"It's nice to have this bye week. Our defense has been on the field a lot and this gives our defense a great chance to heal up," Polamalu said.

Polamalu agrees with Foote that the playoffs will tell the Steelers how good their defense is.

"If you really want to be a great defense, you have to win the big games, the important ones, because people don't really remember great defenses that don't win championships," Polamalu said. "We have an opportunity to do that, to be remembered."

12-29-2008, 05:34 PM
Nice find bruski

12-29-2008, 05:43 PM
Our D rocks and can take us all the way,as long as our O puts up some points.

12-29-2008, 07:09 PM
This team really is special. They are a well grounded group of men. And that is a testament to how well Tomlin has done so far in his early career. We are lucky to have such a great front office.

12-29-2008, 08:27 PM
our def is awesome!!!

i hope that we play the dolphins in the divisional game

12-29-2008, 09:33 PM
Everybody remembers the '76 Steel Curtain and they didn't make the SB that year.
Still, Troy's right. Times are different now and people don't pay as close attention.
We'll always remember, guys! :tt02::tt03::tt::helmet::applaudit:

They didn't make the Superbowl because both Franco and Rocky, both of whom were over a thousand yards that year, were injured and could not play. That game broke my heart.

12-29-2008, 09:35 PM
I agree with Foote. If we want this defense to be remembered like the '85 Bears, we're going to have to win the SB.


12-29-2008, 09:37 PM
Everybody remembers the '76 Steel Curtain and they didn't make the SB that year.

That's because they were already coming off back-to-back SB wins in '74 and '75.

12-29-2008, 11:12 PM
This team really is special. They are a well grounded group of men. And that is a testament to how well Tomlin has done so far in his early career. We are lucky to have such a great front office.

I agree wholeheartedly, Hitman, but I think we also have to give Papa Lebeau a TON of credit for how well these players have developed and unified both on and off the field. :thumbsup:

12-29-2008, 11:34 PM
This defense IS CHAMPIONSHIP caliber. We cant afford to squander this opportunity with the elite level of intensity and focus that they bring to each and every game. They make it so we dont have to rely on a shootout to remain competitive with some of the leagues most potent offenses (eg Patriots, Colts, Giants, Chargers and Cowgirls). Their performance is definitely legendary-esque.

12-30-2008, 06:24 AM
You have to love the mentality of the defensive Steelers players. They are right though if we don't win the big game nobody will care about this defense except of course the fans. Here's to them continuing the high level of play the next 3 games!