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Old 10-31-2010, 07:43 AM   #1
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Default Steelers: Defense is still Curtains for opponents

Steelers: Defense is still Curtains for opponents
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Wednesday October 27, 2010 11:59 PM

Times photo by LUCY SCHALY Steelers beat Browns 28-10 at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon. Ike Taylor waves to fans before a kickoff.

PITTSBURGH — Dick LeBeau couldn't believe his ears. He was almost shocked that a reporter would question the Steelers’ pass defense.

Specifically, LeBeau was asked about opposing quarterbacks completing 66.2 percent of their passes against the Steelers.

“I think if you’d check, we lead the National Football League in fewest points allowed,” the Steelers’ defensive coordinator said succinctly.

That is all LeBeau needed to say.

The Steelers rank 24th in passing defense (235.7 ypg), and they have allowed two-thirds of the passes thrown against to be completed. But they also rank No. 1 in fewest points per game (13.7) and fewest touchdowns allowed (six).

So those pass defense statistics don’t come close to telling the whole story about the Steelers’ defense which ranks fourth in total yards allowed.

“All that means is that the Steelers have been ahead in most of their games and that teams can’t run against them,” said New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who’ll face the Steelers at 8:20 p.m. Sunday in the Louisiana Superdome. “In reality, they’re good all the way around on defense.”

The Steelers agree.

They take great pride in leading the NFL in fewest rushing yards per game (63.7). And they take exception that their pass defense has been considered sub-par.

“The only thing you can read into (those stats) is that it’s almost impossible to run the ball against us,” cornerback Bryant McFadden said. “We pride ourselves in stopping the run first and foremost with all 11 guys. So of course we’re seeing more passes. You can’t run against us. You don’t want to try run against us. So you try to throw the ball against us.

“We can’t get caught up in the numbers as some people do. We just have to play football. At the end of the day, the best stat I’d want is fewest points allowed. That’s the most important statistic, and right now we’re doing a good job keeping teams off the scoreboard.”
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On Sunday night, it figures to be more of the same for the Steelers’ defense. Brees leads the NFL in passing attempts (287) and completion percentage (.697). He’s tied for first in touchdown passes (14). As a team, the Saints rank 26th in rushing (94.8) and fifth in passing (279.3).

So Brees will be winging it against the Steelers.

“It will be big challenge for our defense, especially us guys in the secondary,” cornerback Ike Taylor said.

But it’s a challenge that doesn’t scare Taylor and his fellow defensive backs.

“It’s a 5-1 thing,” strong safety Troy Polamlau said. “It’s always been about stopping the run and not giving up big plays in the secondary. That strategy isn’t going to change in any defense we call. That’s been our philosophy since I’ve been here. It works.”

“I’m not overly concerned with stats,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “When people are behind and they can’t run the football, they are going to throw the football on you, and they’re probably going to pick up yards.

“The thing that’s most exciting is that we don’t allow people to score touchdowns. We lead the league in scoring defense. Even in the red areas we make people kick field goals. To me that’s a formula for winning defense. I’m less concerned about what stats may potentially tell us. We all know in many instances they lie.”

In other words, it’s too early to be bashing the Steelers’ pass defense.
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