The Steelers are known for having a terrific defense and this incarnation of the steel curtain doesn't disappoint. A quick look at the statistics shows both a fierce run defense and an outstanding pass defense.
Team Stats - Game Averages
|Off||22.1||291.7 (26th)||184.4 (24th)||107.3 (24th)|
|Def||15.7||236.0 (1st)||164.4 (1st)||71.6 (2nd)|
Giving up a stingy 71 yards rushing and just 164 yards against the pass, it is one of the great defenses in the NFL. And just like the Steelers of old, they know how to bring the blitz. The last time a group of men were this good at the blitz, they ended up taking Paris. Pittsburgh brings it from various positions, they shuffle players in and out of the line; not to mention pulling some great delayed blitzes. Sun Tzu, an ancient theorist on battle, said that "All war is based on deception." The Steelers understand this; you never know when, where or even if they are coming.
Aaron Smith is on the and has notched 4 sacks and 30 tackles; those are big numbers from a 3-4 defensive end. Casey Hampton is their wide body at nose tackle coming in at 325 pounds. Brett Keisel is on the other end and comes in with 23 tackles. Just like when Merriman was healthy; it is the outside linebackers that really bring the heat on the opposing quarterback. LaMarr Woodley has already picked up 9.5 sacks, caused two forced fumbles and made one interception. On the other side James Harrison has 11 sacks and three forced fumbles; just those two linebackers have 4 more sacks than the entire Chargers defense. Woodley was out with a calf injury against the Colts but has returned to practice this week.
The Chargers get a bit of a break with the Pittsburgh secondary; Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden are both injured and out; Ike Taylor is the only regular who will be in on Sunday. William Gay, a fifth rounder and Fernando Bryant who was sitting on his couch last Sunday will both see time this game. Gay and Bryant are 5' 10" and Anthony Madison is 5' 9", so look for good height mismatches there with San Diego's 6'5" receivers. The offensive line just needs to hold out long enough against the Pittsburgh pass rush. You can't talk about the Steeler defense without mentioning Troy Polamalu. He is all over the field and has three interceptions, 40 tackles and 9 PDs thus far this season. I always think about how the Chargers could have nabbed him in the 2003 draft, but chose to trade down and take cornerback Sammy Davis instead, it almost brings a tear to my eye.