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Old 01-20-2009, 10:56 AM   #1
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Default Brotherhood continues to serve defense well

Brotherhood continues to serve defense well
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Ravens had scored a touchdown to pull within two points of the Steelers in the fourth quarter Sunday and then had forced a quick punt. They appeared to have the Steelers right where they wanted them, especially given the home team's recent history of finding ways to lose AFC Championship Games in Pittsburgh.

In retrospect, it was the Steelers who had the advantage.

The NFL's No.1 defense was sent out to protect a precarious lead. And when defensive end Brett Keisel looked around the huddle at teammates he regards more as kin than colleagues and asked, "Are we going to be great?" it's possible Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco never had a chance.

The Steelers put themselves in position to answer that question in the affirmative by beating Baltimore, 23-14, to advance to Super Bowl XLIII. The play that finally put away the Ravens on Sunday typified the kind of collaborative effort the Steelers have received on defense this season.

Troy Polamalu returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown, but outside linebacker James Harrison helped set up the score by drilling Flacco just as he released the pass. And what stood out to veteran defensive end Aaron Smith is what happened after Polamalu picked off Flacco with just under five minutes left in the AFC title game.

"If you look at the film, you see how many guys are blocking." Smith said. "That just defines our defense. I've never been on a team where guys were so selfless. We don't care who does it or how it gets done."

There is no question the Steelers defense has gotten it done this season and in every imaginable way.

The Steelers finished first in the league in points allowed, total defense and passing defense. And the dominance of their defense is a testament to many things, including the stability that has long been a hallmark of the Steelers.

Of the 11 starters on defense, eight were drafted and developed by the organization. All but two of the defensive starters have been with the Steelers at least five seasons.

"So many guys have been around each other for such a long period of time that you can't help but be like brothers," nose tackle Casey Hampton said, "and I think that's why we're so close to each other."

"That's always been like that," veteran cornerback Deshea Townsend said of the continuity in the Steelers' locker room. "That's how you become a great team, the selflessness with which you play. Each guy genuinely loves the guy next to him."

Such brotherhood is one reason why the Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season, why they finished second in the NFL with 51 sacks prior to the playoffs and why they almost became the first defense since 1991 to lead the league in total defense, rushing defense and passing defense.

"Without a doubt, this is the best defense that I've ever played on," Polamalu said, "but we'll see what happens in the next game. I think that's going to solidify how good we are."

Indeed, for these Steelers to be mentioned in the breath of the Steel Curtain of the 1970s, they'll have to win the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

"It's definitely a great defense," Hampton said, "but we won't be remembered if we don't win it all."

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Old 01-20-2009, 09:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Brotherhood continues to serve defense well

I love our guys. This what is so great about team that separates us from the rest. This is what is so great that make people envy us & become the Steelers fans.
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