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Old 10-12-2009, 09:37 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...s-Lions-column
This article has been read 274 times.

DETROIT - Make no mistake about it, the Steelers' defense isn't the dominating unit it was last year. The yards, particularly in the fourth quarter, are coming just a little bit easier for the opponents this season.

But another sign of a good unit is being able to make a play when needed.

The Steelers had struggled with that in their two losses, failing to hold fourth-quarter leads against both Chicago and Cincinnati.

Against Detroit Sunday, it looked as if that might happen again when the Lions cut Pittsburgh's lead to 28-20 with 4:57 remaining.

After forcing the Steelers to punt, the Lions got the football back at their own 29-yard line and proceeded to move to the Pittsburgh 21 with 1:54 left.

But Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau decided he had seen enough and he wasn't going down without a fight. He called for cornerback blitzes from William Gay on back-to-back plays, resulting in a pair of sacks of Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Then, on third down, inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons came hard on a blitz and sacked Culpepper again, pushing the Lions all the way back to the Pittsburgh 45.

There would be no fourth-quarter comeback in this one.

"You've got to give Coach LeBeau credit. He dissected that offense and called just the right blitz," said Gay, who got the sack on the second blitz and shared one with linebacker LaMarr Woodley on the first.

The three consecutive sacks helped mask what was an otherwise lackluster performance by the Steelers' defense against a team that lost wide receiver Calvin Johnson - the Lions' best playmaker - in the first half to a knee injury.

Without Johnson, the Lions should have been no match for the Steelers.

Yet there they were, late in the game, hanging in with the defending Super Bowl champions.

Part of the reason for that was yet another interception returned for a touchdown against the Steelers. Those things happen from time to time, though it has occurred in back-to-back weeks for Ben Roethlisberger.

But it still doesn't explain allowing 335 yards to the Lions, a team that failed to win a game last year and one with only a single victory this season. And 205 of those yards came in the second half, when the Lions also converted eight of 11 third downs

The Steelers should have been putting this game away, not allowing the Lions to control the clock and hang around.


Instead, the Steelers found themselves again living on the edge, needing to make a defensive stand late in the game to close out a win.

It worked out for the Steelers this time. But it was far from what we've become accustomed to seeing from this defense.

"We're still searching for the Steelers," admitted linebacker James Farrior. "We still think we left some plays out there."

Maybe getting safety Troy Polamalu back Sunday against Cleveland will be all this defense needs.

Yes, the defense only allowed 13 points Sunday, but the 55 points the Steelers have allowed in the fourth quarter through five games is alarming. They gave up only 75 points in the final quarter all of last year.

The Steelers were able to hold on for the victory against Detroit. But they can't continue to play this way if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

I have to say that I agree with this. Unless our pass D put's it together soon, we could be in trouble. What's going to happen when we play pass happy teams with good quarterbacks? I can't believe Dante Culpeper had 282 yards passing against us!!! That is way to much for a guy that has not played a lick of football for a while.
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

I don't know what is going on with the "D" this year. I don't know why we are playing so passive and we are on most plays just rushing with 4 or 5 guys and we are not bringing all of those exotic blitz packages that we are known for(not unless the game was hanging in the balance at the end like yesterday). It's as if Tomlin is prepping the team for the switch to the tampa-2 or something, but I'm happy with the win in any case go steelers!!!!!
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

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What's going to happen when we play pass happy teams with good quarterbacks?
Like San Diego?
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Old 10-12-2009, 12:40 PM   #5
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

SF Staff Member,

I understand your reply to my comment. I guess what I'm trying to get at is come playoff time, and I expect the Steelers to be in the playoff's, we are not going to be facing teams like SD. We are going to have to play better teams like Indy. What would a quarterback like Manning do to our pass D if we don't get things shored up? I'm worried about Minnie in a couple of weeks as well. Look don't get me wrong, I'm a Steeler optimist. I just did not like to see a pedestrian QB converting on 3rd & 21 chances and it wasn't a one off either. 11-18 converted on 3rd downs. You can't sugar coat that.
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Old 10-12-2009, 01:44 PM   #6
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

Once we get Troy back I really think we will be fine. Our pass rush looked damn good yesterday and should again Sunday. The game Im kinda worried about is against the Vikes. But if we get after the old man we will be fine.
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

I hope they are saving it for the second half of the season and playing possum right now, but I doubt it.

Looks like they lost the fire to play and are content with having the offense be the face of the team.

Also, new rule changes have affected their wide open style of play.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

It is all about not being able to get off the field on third downs. The Steelers are getting teams in third and longs, and not being able to get off the field on third down. Yesterday the Lions converted 61% of third downs. SIXTY ONE PERCENT! THE LIONS!! The week befor the Chargers converted on 66% of third downs. The Bengals only converted 25%, they were absolutely horrible in the first half. But the converted 100% (3/3) on 4th downs, that led to the game winning TD. Chicago converted 50% of third downs. Tennessee only converted 28%, and they only scored 10 points. For the season, teams are converting 42% on third downs. Our league leading average last year was 31%. This is where we miss Troy the most. We need him back there making plays in the 2 deep zone we usually run on third and longs. His presence also allows us to do different things with our blitz packages, whether he is rushing the passer, or dropping in coverage. I feel his absence is the biggest reason for the 11% drop off in third down efficiency on defense.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

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SF Staff Member,

I understand your reply to my comment. I guess what I'm trying to get at is come playoff time, and I expect the Steelers to be in the playoff's, we are not going to be facing teams like SD. We are going to have to play better teams like Indy. What would a quarterback like Manning do to our pass D if we don't get things shored up? I'm worried about Minnie in a couple of weeks as well. Look don't get me wrong, I'm a Steeler optimist. I just did not like to see a pedestrian QB converting on 3rd & 21 chances and it wasn't a one off either. 11-18 converted on 3rd downs. You can't sugar coat that.
Sorry, but I heard basically the exact same stuff last year, only about the offense. "Pedestrian QB?" Somehow I don't see Manning ripping off 30+ yard runs on us if we get him under a heavy rush, but that's just me. I'm not sugarcoating anything, I just have faith in LeBeau to get it fixed. Along with the 11-18 on third downs, we also got 7 sacks yesterday.
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: Still searching for Pittsburgh's defense

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Originally Posted by KartSteel View Post
SF Staff Member,

I understand your reply to my comment. I guess what I'm trying to get at is come playoff time, and I expect the Steelers to be in the playoff's, we are not going to be facing teams like SD. We are going to have to play better teams like Indy. What would a quarterback like Manning do to our pass D if we don't get things shored up? I'm worried about Minnie in a couple of weeks as well. Look don't get me wrong, I'm a Steeler optimist. I just did not like to see a pedestrian QB converting on 3rd & 21 chances and it wasn't a one off either. 11-18 converted on 3rd downs. You can't sugar coat that.
Hi KartSteel.

I think Troy will be hunting Favre's short passes, that will put Vike's offense in trouble, and don't forget Silverback and Woodley will be able to rush the pass. I'm a little more concerned for Peterson, but on the other hand I will trust Mr. LeBeau, he will find the way to limit him
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