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Hawaii 5-0
10-30-2012, 01:39 AM
Steelers’ defense out to build on lofty ranking

By Alan Robinson
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

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The Steelers' Larry Foote talks with defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and linebacker coach Keith Butler during the Redskins game at Heinz Field Oct. 28, 2012.

The Steelers’ 2008 defense was a great one by any measure — wins, statistics, playoff success, intimidation factor.

Last year’s defense was statistically dominant, too, at least until Tim Tebow improbably ruined their 12-4 season.

As the halfway point of their 2012 season approaches, the Steelers (4-3) aren’t ready to argue that this defense belongs in the class of those statistically dominant units. For good reason, too.

Troy Polamalu has been seen only briefly since the season opener. James Harrison still isn’t James Harrison. The sacks (only 12 so far) and the turnovers (only one per game) aren’t piling up. The memories of the failed fourth quarters in Oakland and Tennessee and Denver remain vivid.

“We’re not patting ourselves on the back,” defensive end Brett Keisel said.

But glance at the NFL statistics, and the Steelers are in familiar territory. For all of their deficiencies, for all that has gone wrong while dropping three of four on the road, they are the league’s No. 2 defense.

“Dick LeBeau’s resume speaks for itself,” cornerback Ike Taylor said, referring to the defensive coordinator who always seems to find a way to make his defense work.

In their past two games — wins over the Bengals and Redskins — the Steelers gave up a total of 440 yards (about 600 fewer than the Saints). It’s a very Steelers-like number, even if it occurred during an uncharacteristic season; this will be the first time under coach Mike Tomlin they will hit midseason without being 6-2.

“We’re going out now and playing disciplined and playing the way we know how to play,” outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said after the Steelers shut down Washington wunderkind Robert Griffin III. “We went out and played our game. We weren’t worried about who was playing at quarterback.”

What’s missing — besides Polamalu, of course — are the game-changing big plays, the make-you-shudder hits that can change the course of a game. That’s why Harrison said it’s much too soon to use the word “dominant” to describe this defense.

“I feel like we’re headed in the right direction, but we’re still not where we want to be,” he said.

Despite limiting Griffin to 8 yards rushing and a 47 percent pass completion percentage (he came in averaging 70.4 percent), the Steelers benefitted from seven dropped passes. Cornerback Keenan Lewis, playing his best game of the season, knocked away two passes in the end zone that could have gone for touchdowns.

Harrison and linebacker Lawrence Timmons both appeared to be susceptible to play-action fakes, something Giants quarterback Eli Manning might look to exploit Sunday.

“For the most part we played our defense and executed reasonably well, but there are still things that can be corrected,” Harrison said. “We’re not perfect by any means. There were plays we could have done better on.”

The Giants (6-2), winners of five in a row, and Manning should provide a better indicator of where this Steelers defense is.

New York won its past two games despite allowing 914 yards to the Redskins and Cowboys, in part because Manning bailed them out in the fourth quarter both times.

Now the Steelers can only guess what beating the Super Bowl champions in their stadium would mean to their season. They trailed the Ravens (5-2) by 21⁄2 games in the AFC North only 10 days ago, but they’ve cut that to a single game.

“I don’t see this as a chance to make a huge statement,” Harrison said. “I see this is an opportunity to go out there and show what we can do. We’re going to go out there and try to play a better game than we did this week, and hopefully that will be good enough.”

http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/2855682-85/steelers-defense-game-harrison-season-playing-defensive-dominant-games-manning#ixzz2Akp2ldnC

maddog78
10-30-2012, 06:43 AM
Good piece. We're on pace to finish at the bottom of the league in turnovers, sacks, and 3rd down pct again, and that won't be good enough to slow guys like Manning, Brady, Rogers, etc. come playoff time.

We need Troy playing at a high level to have a shot at that.

steelfury02
10-30-2012, 09:05 AM
we do, but championship teams need someone else to step up and make the play - I don't see it coming from anyone else in the secondary for the foreseeable future. we have to hope this team is on its way to creating more pressure up front

harrison'samonster
10-30-2012, 09:41 AM
looks like it could all be coming together though. I'm looking for Timmons to become one of the big play-makers by the end of this season.

And if we get Troy and Harrison healthy by the end of the season, we could become the team nobody wants to see in the playoffs.

GoFor7
10-30-2012, 09:56 AM
Can DBs make interceptions if they are told to "tackle the catch?"

lotas
10-30-2012, 10:42 AM
We don't just "need Troy". Yes he has been crucial to our success, but I believe all we need is to have the entire defense, all 11 guys on the field, playing at a high level. I saw a glimpse of that for the first time in awhile last game. The real test is this Sunday, can't wait to see how we play against real competitors.

SteelKid212
10-30-2012, 11:59 AM
Despite the defense hardly creating turnovers, we are still +1 in turnovers. That is waaaay better than last year.

if the offense keeps sustaining drives, scoring and protecting the ball, and if our defense can create just a little more pressure up front, this team should keep winning games, no matter who they play.

SteelKid212
10-30-2012, 12:00 PM
We don't just "need Troy". Yes he has been crucial to our success, but I believe all we need is to have the entire defense, all 11 guys on the field, playing at a high level. I saw a glimpse of that for the first time in awhile last game. The real test is this Sunday, can't wait to see how we play against real competitors.

^^ agree 100% :thumbsup:

Steelers>NFL
10-30-2012, 12:09 PM
We don't just "need Troy". Yes he has been crucial to our success, but I believe all we need is to have the entire defense, all 11 guys on the field, playing at a high level. I saw a glimpse of that for the first time in awhile last game. The real test is this Sunday, can't wait to see how we play against real competitors.

Yep. Playing the best 4th qtr. QB in the league, Eli Manning. He has played great in the 4th the last two seasons. Offense will need to get a big lead for D going into the 4th.

maddog78
10-30-2012, 02:16 PM
looks like it could all be coming together though. I'm looking for Timmons to become one of the big play-makers by the end of this season.


It's only his sixth season. I had hopes after the Philly game that the light came on, but he hasn't repeated that effort since. Better than the start of the year, but I think he's not going to live up to expectations.

harrison'samonster
10-30-2012, 02:47 PM
I'm afraid Timmons might not be that player, but I think as this season progresses he'll have his chances to show us what he's got. Now that some of the older players have moved on or are playing at a lower level, or just injured.

I'm still holding out hope that he can become a big play maker, and not just a good player on this team.

Riddle_Of_Steel
10-30-2012, 03:40 PM
Harrison and linebacker Lawrence Timmons both appeared to be susceptible to play-action fakes, something Giants quarterback Eli Manning might look to exploit Sunday.

The Giants did not come to Heinz Field touting the #1 rushing offense to threaten us with either. Having an effective running game can keep a pass rush honest.

Eli Manning is not a threat to bring the ball down and run one like RGIII. They don't have the run game the Redskins have. Lebeau will be able to dial up more blitzes this week.

I don't know if any of you recall that game in 2008-- but Eli gashed us up with a bunch of short, high percentage passes. Our pass rush kept the pressure on all game, but were just a half step behind him the whole time.

Lebeau needs to dial up the blitzes and have our corners play bump coverage-- that will shut Eli down and take away the timing throws.

On the flipside, we need to watch the right side of the Oline where Adams plays. We cannot afford to have Heath play as an extra tackle-- we need his production in the passing game.

harrison'samonster
10-30-2012, 03:56 PM
On the flipside, we need to watch the right side of the Oline where Adams plays. We cannot afford to have Heath play as an extra tackle-- we need his production in the passing game.

I think if we get the running game going early, we will have a better chance of using heath in the passing game. If not, we might see Heath helping with the blocking a bit.