When the 2016 season began, the Steelers were touted as one of the worst offenses in the NFL. It was said that they’d be involved in many shootouts throughout the year because of how potent their offense is as opposed to their bad defense.
Fast forward to week 14 after their 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills and people are now taking notice of a once written off Steelers defense.
Defensive coordinator Keith Butler had been tasked with taking a relatively young defense and molding them into one cohesive unit that could keep the other team off of the scoreboard. They’ve done a pretty good job of that to this point.
Consider this: The 20 points the defense allowed in Sunday’s win were the most given up in a victory all year. They gave up 34 in an outlier loss all the way back in week three against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Should Cause Concern
If that’s not enough to convince you, take in this list of reasons:
- The ageless wonder James Harrison continues to prove why age doesn’t matter if you continue to train like a monster as he does. Just check out his Instagram if you don’t believe me. The outside linebacker leads the team in sacks with five and took over the organization’s all-time sack record just a few short weeks ago. With Harrison leading the pass rush as defensive end Cameron Heyward continues to be out, teams still have big reason to worry. Which leads me to my next point…
- The Steelers were without Heyward and rookie tackle Javon Hargrave Sunday. Heyward is out for the year and Hargrave is on a week-to-week basis with a concussion. The pass rush put up five sacks today, including 1.5 from rookie safety Sean Davis, with two of their starting components sidelined. It’s odd because with those guys in the lineup sack numbers were down. An inspired pass rush has rejuvenated this defense. Speaking of Davis…
- Davis and fellow rookie cornerback Artie Burns have gotten better it seems with every week that’s gone by. Burns had another interception this week for his team leading third. Davis’ first pro interception came last week against the New York Giants. Both have become better in the tackling aspect that haunted both of them through about the first four weeks. Rookies only grow with time so that’s good news for all parties involved.
- Cornerback Ross Cockrell was signed as a free agent last season after the Buffalo Bills had cut him. He landed on the roster with an immediate chance to make an impact and he’s done just that. He fits the defense’s scheme pretty well. They don’t generate a ton of interceptions in the secondary. The one thing they do excel in is keeping their man contained without gaining many yards. He’s a perfect model for that.
Those were some notes from the entire cumulative season. Take into mind these stats from today’s game:
- Of course the Bills aren’t the best team, but the Steelers only gave up 275 yards today. Le’Veon Bell totaled 298 yards by himself in the 27-20 win. That’s obviously a testament to how good he is and how bad the Bills defense is.
- One of the Bills touchdown drives started inside the ten due to a Ben Roethlisberger interception. The other 13 points came off of one long touchdown drive and two field goals. The Steelers defense really dictated the Bills’ offensive game plan.
- The Steelers only forced one turnover and still held the Bills to 21:19 time of possession. This figure is the lowest time of possession against the defense all year long.
The Steelers five-game win streak isn’t just a result of having the deadliest quarterback- running back-wide receiver combination in all of football. Their defense has helped contribute to that. We all know that defense wins championships and if this one keeps playing at this high of a level, Super Bowl number seven may not be too far out of sight.