View Full Version : Best offense is defense

10-27-2009, 02:08 AM
Bires: Best offense is defense

By: Mke Bires -
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... fense.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2009/october/26/bires-best-offense-is-defense.html)

Monday October 26, 2009 12:11 AM

Times photo by LUCY SCHALY Steelers beat the Vikings Sunday-Brett Favre is sacked to end the game.

PITTSBURGH — Typically, it’s not a memorable day for a defense when it’s gashed for close to 400 yards. But Sunday was an exception for the Steelers.

Against legendary Brett Favre and the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings, the bend-but-not-break defenders of Dick LeBeau put on a performance that won’t soon be forgotten.

For on this day before the largest crowd ever gathered on the North Shore for a football game, the Steelers’ defense scored more touchdowns than both the Minnesota offense and the Pittsburgh offense.

“Coach LeBeau always preaches to us that our chances of winning improve greatly when the defense scores one touchdown,” free safety Ryan Clark said. “But if you score two touchdowns on defense, your chances of winning are like 90 percent.”

LeBeau, the wily 71-year-old defensive coordinator, has seen so much in his 51 seasons in the NFL as a player and coach but never has he seen what happened late in the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ 27-17 win over the Vikings.

Two separate times, Favre marched the Vikings into the red zone, each time needing a field goal to tie or a touchdown to go ahead. But each time, it was the Steelers who wound up scoring.

On third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Favre had the ball stripped away from his grasp by defensive end Brett Keisel. The first man to the loose ball was outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who picked it up and rumbled 77 yards for a touchdown.

Then with 1:15 left to play, the Vikings had a second-and-3 at the Steelers’ 19. But when Favre zipped a screen pass toward Chester Taylor, the ball went through the running back’s hands and into the grasp of inside linebacker Keyaron Fox.

Eighty-two yards later, Fox was in the end zone.

Game over.

“When you put up a couple splash plays defensively, when you put up 14 points defensively, you can overcome a lot of errors,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

The TDs scored by Woodley and Fox erased a bunch of Steeler errors, two in particular. One was a first-down fumble by Rashard Mendenhall at the Vikings’ 3-yard line on the second play of the fourth quarter. The other was an 88-yard TD the Steelers allowed to kickoff returner Percy Harvin.

The Woodley and Fox highlight-reel returns also negated the Vikings’ decided edge in total yards (386 to 259) and time of possession (36:58 to 23:02).

“We pride ourselves in trying to be the No. 1 defense in the world,” Fox said.

In three of the past five seasons, the Steelers ranked first in the NFL in total defense. But none of those defenses ever scored twice in one game.

“They play the same scheme they always play,” Favre said of the Steelers’ defense. “It just comes down to physically beating them at what they do.”

Beside the Woodley and Fox gems, the Steelers’ defense had another game-shaping moment. In the third quarter, the Vikings had a first-and-goal at the Steelers’ 1-yard. It was actually first down at the half-yard line.

But instead of surrendering a go-ahead touchdown, the Steelers’ defense held the Vikings to a field goal.

Adrian Peterson, who Tomlin calls the “best football player in the world,” was stopped for no gain. On second and third, Favre threw incomplete. On fourth down, Minnesota coach Brad Childress chose to kick a field goal instead of going for it.

“We always talk about defending every blade of grass,” Keisel said. “If we have blades of grass to defend, we want to stand up and defend them … even from the 5-inch line.

“(Defensively), we never wavered. We never quit. We never gave up. That’s what this team is all about.”

So in the end, it was another special day for the defense.