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fordfixer
12-20-2008, 04:37 PM
Steelers defense could rank among greats
by Bob McManaman - Dec. 20, 2008 12:50 PM
The Arizona Republic http://www.azcentral.com/sports/cardina ... n1221.html (http://www.azcentral.com/sports/cardinals/articles/2008/12/20/20081220nflinsidermain1221.html)


Every great act deserves a curtail call. And when it comes to the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers, it would seem the appropriate time to officially inaugurate their dominating defense as the Steel Curtain II.

With ultimate respect to the original Steel Curtain, which earned its fame in 1976, this year's version has been stunningly stellar. It probably deserves a fresh nickname, too.

Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 in the NFL in total defense (239.1 yards per game), pass defense (163.3), scoring defense (13.7) and until recently, run defense (75.8). The Vikings are presently first against the rush at 71.2.
No defense has finished first across the board in run, pass and total defense since the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles, featuring Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner and the patriarch of the famed "46" defense, then-head coach Buddy Ryan.

That team didn't win a Super Bowl, but this team just might.

"Greatness has to do with winning. Greatness has to do with championships," Steelers safety Troy Polamalu told reporters recently. "That would solidify it, I guess, the greatness or value of our defense."

Sunday's game against the Titans in Tennessee can help solidify the Steelers' dynamic defense. In a matchup of the top teams in the AFC, Pittsburgh (11-3) and Tennessee (12-2) butt heads in the battle for the top playoff seed.

It's the Steelers' punishing 'D' against the Titans' conference-best rushing attack, led by LenDale White and Chris Johnson, which averages 142.8 yards a game.

"It's a humungous challenge for us," Steelers defensive end Travis Kirschke told reporters. "To be the champion against the run you have to beat the ones who are champions on the run."

If they stuff the running game in Tennessee known as "Smash-N-Dash" and find a way to win another Super Bowl, this Steelers' defense should draw comparisons to the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and those '91 Eagles.

And if they do it convincingly, then they just might be as recognizable as any other of the great defenses from yesteryear. And that includes the original Steel Curtain, which allowed only four touchdowns worth of points during the final nine games of the '76 regular season.

That defense featured eight Pro Bowl players on defense. This year's team has only three, Polamalu and linebackers James Harrison and James Farrior, but it's strong, and much of the credit has to go to 71-year-old defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Second-year head coach Mike Tomlin, a defensive-minded man who had enough sense to let LeBeau keep doing his thing, also deserves a good deal of credit.

"It wasn't broke, so I wasn't going to attempt to fix it," Tomlin told ESPN.

MR.V.
12-20-2008, 05:24 PM
I think it's impressive that Tomlin as a defensive minded coach saw what he had in Lebeau and kept him around.

Steeler Shades
12-20-2008, 05:35 PM
I think it's impressive that Tomlin as a defensive minded coach saw what he had in Lebeau and kept him around.
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