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Old 11-16-2008, 12:39 AM   #1
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Default Curtain call in Pittsburgh

Curtain call in Pittsburgh

As in the 1970s, a powerful defense serves as the foundation for building a title contender

09:22 PM CST on Saturday, November 15, 2008

When Dave Wannstedt was defensive coordinator of the Cowboys in the early 1990s, he tacked the schedule of the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers to the bulletin board in his office for inspiration.

The Steelers lost Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw that season, so they needed their Steel Curtain defense to rise up and carry the team. It did, allowing a league-low 138 points on the way to an AFC Central championship. The Steelers shut out five of their 14 opponents and held four others without a touchdown.

Eight Pittsburgh defenders were selected to the Pro Bowl that season, including four Hall of Famers: DT Joe Greene, LBs Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and CB Mel Blount. That defensive unit defined greatness for the franchise.

In 2007, the Steelers selected their 75th anniversary team. There was a healthy contingent of defenders from the 1970s who helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls. But that Steel Curtain led the NFL in defense only twice.

The Steelers of this decade have already led the NFL in defense three times 2001, 2004 and 2007 and are again the No. 1-ranked defense in 2008. Two players on the current defense were selected to the 75th anniversary team, nose tackle Casey Hampton and safety Troy Polamalu.

The current Steelers lead the NFL in passing defense and sacks and rank second in run defense. As in 1976, defense has powered Pittsburgh into a division lead with a 6-3 record.

Like the Steelers of the 1970s, this Pittsburgh defense is built primarily with home-grown talent. Nine of the 11 starters and 11 of the top 14 players have never played for another franchise.

Only three of the starters entered the NFL as first-round draft picks and another arrived as a second-rounder. This unit also includes four fourth-round picks in the starting lineup, a seventh-rounder and two undrafted collegians.

Some franchises just have a knack for building great defenses.


Here's a look at the NFL's top-ranked defensive unit:

Pos. Player Acquisition
SE Aaron Smith 4th-round draft pick, 1999
COMMENT: 2005 Pro Bowler, 36 career sacks

NT Casey Hampton 1st-round draft pick, 2001
COMMENT: Selected to four Pro Bowls

WE Brett Keisel 7th-round draft pick, 2002
COMMENT: Three-year starter, 5 sacks in 2006

SLB LaMarr Woodley 2nd-round draft pick, 2007
COMMENT: Won Lombardi Trophy as senior at Michigan

ILB James Farrior Unrestricted FA (NY Jets), 2002
COMMENT: 2005 Pro Bowler with 1,138 career tackles

ILB Larry Foote 4th-round draft pick, 2002
COMMENT: 100-plus tackles in 2005, 2006

WLB James Harrison Undrafted rookie free agent, 2004COMMENT: Team MVP, Pro Bowler in 2007

CB Ike Taylor 4th-round draft pick, 2003
COMMENT: Broken up 60 passes in four years as a starter

CB DeShea Townsend 4th-round draft pick, 1998
COMMENT: 19 career interceptions, 117 passes broken up

FS Ryan Clark Unrestricted FA (Wash.), 2006
COMMENT: Also started for NY Giants and Washington

SS Troy Polamaulu 1st-round draft pick, 2003
COMMENT: Selected to last four Pro Bowls

DE Travis Kirschke Unrestricted FA (San Fran.), 2004
COMMENT: Started 33 career games

LB Lawrence Timmons 1st-round draft pick, 2007
COMMENT: Four sacks this season

Nickel CB Bryant McFadden 2nd-round draft pick, 2005
COMMENT: Two interceptions this season
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Old 11-16-2008, 12:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: Curtain call in Pittsburgh

We do always seem to find a shining gem out of the manure pile.

I'll take the Pittsburgh D over any in the league, any day of the year.

It's a testament to the franchise the way our defense has been solidly consistent over the years.

Looking forward to some good ol' Steelers D against the Punks.
I'll keep my freedoms, my guns, and my
money . . . you can keep "THE CHANGE."
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Old 11-16-2008, 06:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: Curtain call in Pittsburgh

I really like the players we have on deffense they are all good and I guess that is why we are ranked at the top and as steelman said we always seem to find a gem.
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Old 11-16-2008, 09:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Curtain call in Pittsburgh

Just think if our offense was playing up to the level we are capable of...we would be a holy terror and other teams would wee themselves before they even made it out of the locker rooms!!!

Also, isn't it cool that we refer to the team as "we" and "our"?
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Old 11-16-2008, 09:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Curtain call in Pittsburgh

Defense WINS Championships.

786 Ways To Score Touchdowns
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