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mesaSteeler
10-28-2009, 11:45 PM
http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/244038
Steelers improve finishing touch
Defense stands up to ice latest victory
Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era
Oct 28, 2009 08:02 EST
By MATT PAWLIKOWSKI, Correspondent

Pittsburgh

It's called situational football, or in better terms, closing out football games.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive unit knows it well. Just six points separate them from a perfect 7-0 slate and even in the first four wins of the year, they had trouble closing out teams in the fourth quarter.

"All year we hadn't been finishing," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "We were allowing teams to go out there and put points on the board. So the thing was to finally go out here and make a stand. We lost a few games because the defense didn't make a stand, so our thing was that if our offense put enough points on the board, to go out there as a defense and do just that."

Not only Woodley, but also the entire defensive unit lived up to that philosophy in Sunday's 27-17 win over the previously unbeaten Minnesota Vikings.

"We feel like we have a really good defense," Brett Keisel said. "Today was a great test for us to go against a good offensive line, a great quarterback, great running back. It was a big test for us and we answered the call."

Their performance was reminiscent of the Steel Curtain days, and against a legend as well. The Steelers shut down Adrian Peterson, but managed something no other team had done in future Hall of Famer Brett Favre's career, returning a fumble and interception of his in the same game for a touchdown.

All of this in the final seven minutes of the game, too.

The Steelers got their first defensive touchdown of the year when the Vikings were in the red zone. Keisel sacked Favre and in the process tomahawked the ball out of his hands. Woodley picked it up and returned it 77 yard for a score.

"Loose ball on the ground, pick it up or fall on it," Woodley said of the play. "So I was like, 'Woodley, pick it up, see what you can do with it.' So I picked it up, stiff-armed a guy and saw my teammates coming and they were throwing blocks for me.

"My team kept blocking for me, I got in the end zone and thought about doing a dance, but my legs wouldn't let me."

The second play, Keyaron Fox's first career touchdown, clinched the win for the Steelers (5-2) and it came at a crucial time as Percy Harvin had just scored on an 88-yard kickoff return.

"We have been struggling in the fourth quarter to close things up, so this feels real good," Fox said. "The defense made some plays before Woodley's return, so it was just great defense."

Situational football also played a key role in both scores, as teammates were dishing out blocks like ice cream scoops at a boardwalk parlor. On both, safety Ryan Clark looked like a lead fullback clearing the lanes.

"I'm the hustle guy, and I want to be part of something great" Clark said, "So every time they show the touchdowns from today, I'm going to be out front."

But Clark added an important point.

"I think where we are now it is hard to remember we were 1-2," Clark said. "It's a decent record and puts us in the division hunt heading into the bye week."

There was talk at the beginning of the season that the defense was past its prime. On Sunday they showed the rest of the NFL that Bliztburgh is back.

"That's what people say early in the year when you go out there and aren't playing football the way you have in past years," Woodley said. "But people forget it's a long season. Last year the Titans started 10-0 and didn't go anywhere. So it's not how you started, it's how you finish."

Clark echoed those sentiments.

"Obviously we aren't where we were at last year, and I don't think anyone will ever be again with the way the game is going," Clark said. "We were special last year, but it's the same guys, same competitors and we are working hard to give our team a chance every day."

stillers4me
10-29-2009, 05:28 AM
I got a text saying the NFL is going to name James Harrison as AFC Defensive Player of the month for October. I'd say that is a great sign that our defense is heading down the right road!

Congrats, James and the entire defense for stepping up!

SCSTILLER
10-29-2009, 06:49 AM
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"I think where we are now it is hard to remember we were 1-2," Clark said. "It's a decent record and puts us in the division hunt heading into the bye week."

There was talk at the beginning of the season that the defense was past its prime. On Sunday they showed the rest of the NFL that Bliztburgh is back.


I would much rather the whole team get their bad play out of the way early in the season, than having the bad play rear it's ugly head in the last part of the season!