View Full Version : Defense ready to make a statement?

10-24-2009, 01:27 AM
Defense ready to make a statement?
October 23rd, 2009
http://blog.triblive.com/view-from-the- ... statement/ (http://blog.triblive.com/view-from-the-press-box/2009/10/23/defense-ready-to-make-a-statement/)

On one side you have Ben Roethlisberger, who leads the NFL in passing yards, and Hines Ward, who has more receiving yards than any player through the first six weeks of the season.

On the other side you have Brett Favre, who is playing like the quarterback that won three consecutive MVP Awards in the 1990s, and Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the NFL.

It seems like a foregone conclusion that Sunday’s game between one of only two 6-0 teams in the NFL and the reigning Super Bowl champion will produce its share of points.

Where the Steelers might have an advantage is on the defensive side of the ball – and not just because the Vikings will try to slow down Roethlisberger with a patchwork secondary.

A Steelers’ defense that has yet to turn in a statement game this season may be poised to do just that at Heinz Field. The defense has been good but not great this season and it has been downright vulnerable in the fourth quarter of games — at least the fourth quarter of games when they are not playing the woeful Browns.

If the way Ryan Clark answered a question earlier this week is any indication, the Steelers defensive players may have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

The reason: A unit that finished first in the NFL last season in total, scoring and passing defense has had to endure its flaws being pointed out on a weekly basis.

“It’s what people do when they need stories to write. It’s what people do when they need to put something on TV,” Clark said a bit defiantly when asked about the criticism the defense has absorbed. “If we go 12-4 with this (defense) we’re going to be just as happy as going 12-4 with our (defense) last year.”

That can be translated as Clark not caring how the Steelers win as long as they get it.

But the Steelers are nothing if not a proud bunch on defense. As gracious as they were to Favre and Peterson this week, they may be simmering just a bit underneath, especially since the focus of this game has been on the offenses.

As for the magnitude of a game in which standing-room only tickets at Heinz Field are selling for almost $200 apiece, Clark said, “This feels a lot like when we played New York last year. It felt like a really big regular-season game with players who were being talked about a lot. It’s a reason why as little kids you work so hard to get to this league.”