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Galax Steeler
09-29-2009, 04:39 AM
Ryan Clark and James Farrior took turns accepting blame in the locker room shortly after the Steelers' defense allowed two long fourth-quarter drives to let another victory slip away Sunday.

Clark, a thinking-man's free safety, began talking about all the points they allowed Sunday to Cincinnati when it was pointed out to him that the offense allowed a touchdown on a 30-yard interception return.

He was having none of that.

"That's part of the game," he explained. "Even looking at that, I got my hand on the ball and dropped it, Ike [Taylor] had some opportunities at interceptions and didn't catch it. That's them making plays and us not, you know what I mean? You want to say, yeah, they scored on defense, but we had our opportunities also and didn't do that and that's what it's all about."

Point made. It's not just the fourth-quarter drives that quickly are becoming a trademark of the 2009 Steelers defense, it is the dearth of big plays.

The Steelers' defense has gathered up a grand total of two turnovers, one by Troy Polamalu and a fumble recovery by Keyaron Fox, both in the opener, coincidentally their only victory. Their opponents have six.

Last season the Steelers had 29 turnovers -- 20 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. They scored twice on interceptions and once on a fumble recovery. LaMarr Woodley's fumble return for a score helped the Steelers beat Baltimore in the fourth game, eventually won in overtime. Deshea Townsend's 25-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:40 left beat Dallas.

Add Troy Polamalu's game-clinching interception return for a touchdown in the AFC championship against Baltimore and James Harrison's 100-yard interception return that helped win a Super Bowl, and those big plays helped put a sixth Lombardi Trophy in their case.

"We need turnovers," said Farrior, a captain of that defense. "We know we need turnovers to help our chance to win the game. The ball just hasn't been bouncing our way. We had opportunities out there [in Cincinnati], we just couldn't get to it.

"We definitely need turnovers. That's the key to the success of this team and the defense."

Add sacks among the lack of big plays. The Steelers, who led the AFC with 51 last season, have five in three games. That's an average of just less than 27 sacks for the season. Nobody has more than one, which means James Harrison again is leading the team which is one more than Woodley.

"It's something we got to rectify if we want to be the great team we strive to be," end Brett Keisel said, noting the lack of big plays by his defense.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09272/1001614-66.stm