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Galax Steeler
08-06-2009, 03:57 AM
Imagine, if you will, the Steelers' offense failing in those final few minutes of Super Bowl XLIII and that Arizona actually had pulled out a 23-20 victory.

It would have ranked as the biggest collapse in any Super Bowl. The NFL's No. 1 defense, a dominating force all season, would have been remembered as blowing a 13-point lead in the final 7 1/2 minutes to lose the Super Bowl.

The gloom would still hang over all of Steelerdom. Instead of playing host to the only six-time Super Bowl champions, Saint Vincent College's training camp might resemble the old monastery's cemetery behind Bonaventure Hall on a hill beyond the practice field. Instead of Sixburgh, there would be Sickburgh.

Of course, that's not what happened, because the offense did score on a Ben Roethlisberger-to-Santonio Holmes pass with 35 seconds left, and the Steelers celebrated one of the greatest Super Bowl endings.

And now, Dick LeBeau has another teaching tool. Not that the Steelers' defensive coordinator needs any more, but, when someone asks how the defense can be any better this year than it was in 2008, that's one tool he pulls out.
Steelers NFL defensive rankings in 2008:

Predicted order of finish in the Presidents Athletic Conference based on a poll of coaches, media and sports information directors.

Category No. Rk.

Total defense 237.2 ypg 1

Rush defense 80.2 ypg 2

Pass defense 156.9 ypg 1

Scoring defense 13.9 ppg 1

Sacks 51 2


"Actually, that's another way that we can grow and improve," LeBeau said after he walked off the practice field. "It's a very excellent teaching lesson -- nothing's ever done until it's done. It's a great teaching point -- you have to execute every down, every second until it's over, because it isn't over until it's over."

LeBeau's team got a chance to redeem itself when, with 15 seconds left and Arizona on the Steelers' 44, linebacker LaMarr Woodley sacked Kurt Warner, who lost a fumble.

"It would have been ironic that probably the best defense I ever had for not giving up big plays -- we just went the whole season without hardly any of them -- for that to happen," LeBeau said of Arizona's comeback. "But this is football and, in a way this is life -- you can never count on anything."

It might be asking to much to count on the 2009 defense topping what the one last season delivered. James Harrison was defensive player of the year, set a team record with 16 sacks and the defense became the franchise's first in a 16-game season to allow fewer than 4,000 yards (3,795).

But LeBeau and his players believe they can get better.

"Coach LeBeau said something that stuck to me in the meeting the other day," said linebacker James Farrior, the defensive captain. "If everybody individually gets better, why can't we be a better unit? It makes sense to me."

The defense has two new starters, although they might be called experienced starters because cornerback William Gay split time with Bryant McFadden last season and linebacker Lawrence Timmons replaced Larry Foote in the nickel defense. That defense includes such players as Woodley, who had 11.5 sacks in his second season, first as a starter.

"We do have a lot of players who really are only in their second or third year playing," LeBeau said. "They should grow significantly. We have some new guys starting, and they should bring some new energy.

"And we should improve. There's no reason why we shouldn't expect to improve and we do."

If the Steelers' defense plays any better than it did in 2008, they might force the Steel Curtain to make room for them somewhere on that mantle. From '07, their sacks leaped from 36 to 51 and their interceptions went from 11 to 20 to go with all those other rankings. Plus, it looks as if a competent punting game will return with a healthy Daniel Sepulveda, and that is something they did not have last season.

Defensive end Brett Keisel does not believe it is too much to ask the defense to put more pressure on the quarterback than it did a year ago.

"That's our M.O. We feel if we can shut down teams from running, that, even if we're in four-man rush, we should be able to create pressure. We have the athletes to do that."

LeBeau stressed another area to his defense the past week, something that's more esoteric than a stat or a ranking.

"We want to be a better defense in terms of always keeping our football team in the contest, giving our offensive guys a chance to win it with a meaningful score at the end of the game."

And, despite the late letdown, that is precisely what they did in Super Bowl XLIII.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09218/988988-66.stm

Men of Steel
08-06-2009, 05:10 PM
dam im sooo exited! its scary to believe an already fierce unit from last year can be even better.

thanks galax

ANDYMISIU
08-06-2009, 07:23 PM
I think Timmons will automatically make us better in a lot of ways. Our coverage will be better one 1st and 2nd downs. Plus, our Blitz packages are going to be crazy hard to read. Our defense is going to be sic this year. I just hope Gay can step up and help with the loss of MAC

stillers4me
08-06-2009, 07:37 PM
Imagine, if you will, the Steelers' offense failing in those final few minutes of Super Bowl XLIII and that Arizona actually had pulled out a 23-20 victory.

It would have ranked as the biggest collapse in any Super Bowl. The NFL's No. 1 defense, a dominating force all season, would have been remembered as blowing a 13-point lead in the final 7 1/2 minutes to lose the Super Bowl.

I felt like I was going to throw up. God I was sick.

But ............ we won! :celebrate:

BurghBoyz86
08-07-2009, 03:26 PM
I think Timmons will automatically make us better in a lot of ways. Our coverage will be better one 1st and 2nd downs. Plus, our Blitz packages are going to be crazy hard to read. Our defense is going to be sic this year. I just hope Gay can step up and help with the loss of MAC

I was going to say the same thing about LT. Definitely will give the D even MORE speed. I think Gay will fill in fine for McFadden. He was solid as a back-up this year. Hope Harrison and the fellas are ready to do some ass kickin!!

packfntk
08-07-2009, 03:29 PM
If it is possible, I feel your defense will be better this year. Timmons is the man and with all those guys playing together for another year only good things can happen.

I will definitely be drafting them in fantasy football this year!

P.S.- Please don't be too hard on the Pack on December 20th!!!!! I am begging you! :hatsoff:

PA/VA Guy
08-07-2009, 03:41 PM
I see no reason why the Steeler D can not be just as good this year. Timmons and Gay are ready for full time duty. The front 7 are especially tough. Barring injury, the D should be in the top 3, at least.
:noidea: