The Steel Curtain returns in big win over Chiefs
The Steelers defense has been criticized often this season. Their overall rankings aren’t all that impressive, and the unit has been very much a work in progress. However, in the biggest game of the season Sunday, the defense had its biggest performance as Pittsburgh defeated the Chiefs 20-12. The win secured the Steelers’ first playoff berth in two years.
They recorded a season-high six sacks, held Jamaal Charles to 29 yards rushing, and rookie Stephon Tuitt forced a critical fumble by Charles as Kansas City was driving. Most importantly, Pittsburgh’s red zone defense was once again outstanding as they held the Chiefs to only four field goals for 12 points.
One of the keys is Pittsburgh’s defense is finally healthy. The linebacking corps is shaping up to be one of the best in the NFL in terms of depth with Lawrence Timmons, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Ryan Shazier, James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, and Arthur Moats. All of these players have made significant contributions in big moments.
Cameron Heyward is continuing to develop and has become a Pro-Bowl caliber defensive end. The aforementioned Tuitt is also playing very well after replacing Brett Keisel. The front seven is the strength of the unit no question – they are rock solid.
The much-maligned secondary also stepped their game up, and played with a great sense of urgency according to head coach Mike Tomlin. William Gay has quietly put together the best season of his career. With the game tied 3-3, Antwon Blake broke up a pass that looked like a sure touchdown to Dwayne Bowe. Will Allen and Mike Mitchell teamed up with Timmons to stuff Charles on 4th and inches right before the end of the first half.
All in all, the defense made huge play after huge play in crucial moments. If the unit can continue to mesh, the Steelers are going to be a team that nobody wants to see when the playoffs start. Everyone knows how good the offense is, but if the defense can continue to mold itself back into the Steel Curtain, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Pittsburgh makes a deep playoff run.