Steelers’ Defensive Trend Continues…

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive struggles continued in Week 4 against the surprising Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.

Harrison and Farrior in practice.

This year the Steelers’ usually dependable defense isn’t blaming their pass defense for their inability to slow the Texans, but the rushing yards the Texans picked up were the difference in their 17-10 win over the reigning AFC Champions.

Coming into the season many questioned whether or not the Steelers’ aging defense would be ready to come in and make another run at the Lombardi Trophy. Pittsburgh’s linebacker core, led by James Harrison, 33, and James Farrior, 36, have shown some signs of aging in the first four games of the season.

Last season the Steelers rush defense held their opponents to an average of 62.6 rushing yards per game throughout the season. This year’s defensive woes have allowed their opponents to rush for an average of 99.3 yards on the ground through the first three weeks and allowed Houston’s Arian Foster to run for 155 yards, which will surely bump up the average on the year.

Before the Steelers faced the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, they had only allowed only one 100-yard rusher in their previous 50 games. This year the “Steel Curtain” has already allowed two 100-yard rushers as well as giving up 86 yards to Joseph Addai and the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3.

The switch on the defensive end has turned the 12th best passing defense into the league’s best passing defense but has also left the Steelers at a mediocre 2-2 in this young season. Coincidently, the Steelers have lost both games in which they allowed the opposing back to rush over 100 yards.

The Steelers’ are going to have to figure out how to get back to their “hit-you-in-the-mouth” style of defense if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl. But first they have to make sure they can get into the playoffs.

Steelers Back on Top of Power Rankings

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on top of the latest Power Rankings for ESPN (See rankings at http://tinyurl.com/25ya4q9) after the shaky victorious return of Ben Roethlisberger showed the team’s potential .The two-time superbowl champ was at quarterback for the first time this season after serving his 4-game suspension. Three touchdown passes and a win later and the Steelers look to be the team to beat in the NFL.

The Steelers lone loss of the season was a nail-biter that came in Week 4 against the tough defense of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens narrowly edged the Steelers after a game-winning drive with minutes left on the clock and No real quarterback for the Steelers to turn to. Had Big Ben been at the helm, it is very easy to believe that the Steelers would have come out victorious.

Now that Roethlisberger is back on the field, all the eyes have to be on the renewed offensive airshow and powerful rushing game. Let’s not forget that the Steelers don’t look bad on the other side of the ball either.

Roethlisberger had a great performance in his return from suspension.

Last team standing…

There’s always those few teams that start the season off on the right foot and string together a long win streak. Those teams this year are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

Aaron Rodgers wants his squad to be the last undefeated team in 2010.

Those are the last four teams standing (Before the Packers-Bears MNF match-up) that have yet to suffer a loss and those are also the last teams that anyone had etched in to be in the position that they are in, with the exception of the Packers.

The Steelers headed into the season with offensive line troubles and missing their starting quarterback that led them to their last two Championship runs.

The absence of Quarterback  Ben Roethlisberger was the biggest concern for Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin but the front line also demanded concerns after giving up 50 sacks last season.

So far this season the offensive line has already allowed their quarteback to be taken down 7 times but the Steeler defense has done their part as well, sacking opposing quarterbacks 10 times.

The defense wasn’t a concern heading into the season and has shown why it wasn’t with it’s stellar play so far. The swarming linebackers mixed with Troy Polomalu at safety have held opponents to a combined 2 touchdowns over three games while giving up an average of 11 points a game, making them the top-ranked defense in the NFL to date.

This is also the same defense that held  Tenessee Titans’ superstar Chris Johnson to 34 yards rushing on 16 carries and now has now forced seven fumbles andgrabbed five interceptions.

The Kansas City Chiefs surprised a lot of people by leading the NFL in rushing average (160.7) after three weeks while holding opposing offenses to 12.7 points a game.

The Chiefs’ linebackers and defensive line have done a great job in the trenches and have helped them hold opposing teams’ running game to an average of 75 yards.

Also helping the team’s defensive domination is the ball-hawking corner Brandon Flowers, who has already grabbed two picks this season.

The Bears and the Packers are doing battle tonight on Monday Night Football which will knock one of these teams out of contention for the longest winstreak to start the 2010 season.

The Bears have used strong running defense so far and are leading the league in rushing defense with an average of 28 yards against the subpar rushing attacks of the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.

Todays game should increase that average drastically but the Packers will have to set up a running game without the usual starter Ryan Grant.

The Packers have looked like the real deal so far in 2010 by implementing a strong offense and defense. Aaron Rodgers has led his offense to the highest points per game average in the NFL at 30.5 while the defenses’ passing defense is the best in the NFL so far.

In the end it looks as if the Packers, Steelers, and Chiefs will be the last undefeated teams left standing.

The Chiefs have faced three mediocre squads so far and will head into their bye week with the Colts in mind waiting for them in week 5. The Chiefs are by far the weakest team out of the three and it will show when they lose first.

By the looks of it the Packers have to be the favorites to win the Superbowl with the teams as they are now, but the Steelers have yet to be at full strength with their regular quartback behind center.

If the Steelers’ offense can provide enough support for the team to pull off a win against the Baltimore Ravens, then they will go into the bye week with Roethlisberger returning for their week six match-up against the lowly Cleveland Browns.

The Packers won’t face a formidable opponent for weeks to come so they look as if they will keep their winning streak the longest.

In the end the Steelers may end up with the rings, but, for now, the odds are in the Packers favor to hold out longer before turning in their first loss.