Steelers’ defense stands tall in defeat
Steelers’ defense stands tall in defeat
By Ralph N. Paulk
Published: Sunday, December 23, 2012
The Steelers‘ defense wasn‘t perfect Sunday, yet it crafted a performance that defied a disheartening 13-10 setback to AFC North rival Cincinnati that erased the team from the playoff picture.
The NFL‘s top-ranked defense crippled the Bengals‘ ground game at Heinz Field. Cincinnati averaged a dismal 0.9 yards on 16 carries.
A defense that struggled all season to create turnovers finally snatched the ball away to give a fading offense chances at redemption. Cornerback Cortez Allen, manning the corner for injured Ike Taylor, intercepted two passes, and safety Ryan Clark recovered a fumble.
The Steelers, with linebacker Lawrence Timmons blitzing and safety Troy Polamalu disrupting blocking schemes, tormented quarterback Andy Dalton. They registered six sacks, hammered Dalton to the ground eight times and flattened running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis behind the line of scrimmage six times.
Still, it was as wasteful a defensive effort as the Steelers have had all season.
Nose tackle Casey Hampton lumbered into the locker room shaking his head. Then he sat at his locker, sighing heavily as he searched somewhat painfully to filter through the debris of a result that simply didn‘t add up.
“I can‘t find any consolation, anything good about it,” Hampton said. “Not to make the playoffs is tough.
“Losing games early in the season we should have won came back to bite us in the end. Everybody played hard, and they knew what was at stake. But it just wasn‘t enough to get it done.”
The Steelers, who face the Cleveland Browns in the season finale Sunday, are likely to finish ahead of San Francisco as the league‘s top-ranked defense for the second year in a row. If so, it will mark only the second time since 1990 the Steelers will miss the playoffs with the best defense in the NFL.
“It‘s a shame that those guys played that well defensively and we lost,” receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “They gave the offense so many opportunities to close it out, but the next thing you know, they‘re back on the field because we gave it right back.”
Clark, however, didn‘t blame the offense.
“We‘ve got to get more out of the defense,” he said. “I told the guys on the sideline that the difference in the game was their defense picks the ball off and scores a touchdown, and we didn‘t. You have to at least match what another team‘s defense does to give your team a chance.”
The Steelers‘ defense surrendered only two field goals, including Josh Brown‘s game-winning 43-yarder with 4 seconds remaining. The Bengals‘ only touchdown was scored by cornerback Leon Hall, who returned a Ben Roethlisberger interception 17 yards to give Cincinnati a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
“(The Bengals) did an amazing job,” Clark said. “I have a lot of respect for everything they do over there, and in the end, they made one more play than we did.”
Defensively, the Steelers appeared to make enough plays to prevent the Bengals from beating them for only the third time in 13 games. With the exception of receiver A.J. Green‘s 20-yard catch that positioned Brown for the game-winner, the defense tossed a net over Cincinnati.
“This is the most arrogant as I‘ll ever be: I‘ll take this defense — man to man — with any defense in the league,” said Clark, who later tweeted he had no words to “capture the disappointment.” “When it comes time to play, you give me my 11 against somebody else‘s 11, I‘ll take mine every time.”
In my opinion, Clark was the heart and soul of this defense this year. He stepped up as the leader of this defense this year. If he wasn't defensive captain, he surely should be. Gives 110% every game, brings it every game. He's not making the big money like a lot of other players but he surely deserves and earned every penny of his contract.
Thanks for at least making each game competitive Defense ver. 2012...even with 5th & 6th stringers playing at times.
No doubt. Clark is the glue of this defense, and should be given TONS of credit for the amount he puts his body on the line. You got to be amazed at this guy, the sacrifices he makes... I have tremendous respect for the way he plays the game.
Originally Posted by NorthCoast
Unfortunately, yesterday's excellent defensive performance will cause too many to forget the inability to sack the QB and force timely turnovers in the previous 14 games. That will mean more of the same next year with probably similar results--few sacks and few game changing plays. Complacency is a killer in the NFL.
Last edited by Oviedo; 12-24-2012 at 02:06 PM.
- Charles Harris-OLB, Missouri
- Rasul Douglas-CB, West Virginia
- Chris Godwin-WR, Penn State
- John Johnson-S, Boston College
- James Conner-RB, Pitt
- Nazair Jones-DT, North Carolina
- Garrett Sickels, DE/OLB, Penn State
You d@mn right. Harrison and Woodley were major disappointments. (With Harrison though, I don't resent him because I'm never worried about his commitment. Injuries just have wrecked him these last two years.) Woodley has been a classic case of take-the-money-and-run, a la Nnamdi Asamougha, Shaun Alexander, etc. We need fast, hungry guys on our defense.
Originally Posted by Oviedo
Hall of Famer
Would like to see a game-by-game grade of every player on defense, by an objective expert.
All opinion here ... Most of the D had at least a couple bad games. But not so for Clark and Keenan Lewis, I think. And Timmons was very strong, too. Ike got strong after a miserable start to the season. Good to have Troy back, incredible in yesterday's game. James gave it strong effort. Liked what I saw Cortez do. Saw little from Woodley, the biggest disappointment of them all.
I am so wishy washy with Wood & Hood...esp Wood. Everytime I want to call him out as a no show I am reminded how much he drops in coverage.
I then hear talk from people that isolate on him when rewatching the game play by play that he is so unconditioned.
Here is my take on Woodley for this year and really last year. He does come into camp not in football shape. Then works his way into football shape and plays well. Now add in injuries so his snap count is down and he can not get into football shape. He can be a great player we have all seen it. He needs to have a monster off season this year. If he is in better shape the injuries should come down and play should go up. He steps up his play and it will help Hood who showed he is trying to get better with his off season work this past year.
Originally Posted by jj28west
That is very likely as I am certain you will remind us in every post you make....
Originally Posted by Oviedo