The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense has been quite the roller coaster ride this season. There’s no doubting that unit has cost the team three games, but lately Steelers’ fans can take their fingers off the panic button because Dick LeBeau’s unit seems to have things figured out.
But there’s one thing that has been missing from this defense and it has been missing for quite some time now: the big play.
This unit that used to make a habit of making big plays and scoring touchdowns of their own has struggled for over a year now in that department.
Looking at the splash plays this season, the Steelers are next-to-last in the league with only three interceptions. By comparison, their opponent on Sunday, the New York Giants, leads the NFL with 16 picks.
The Steelers have also recovered only four fumbles on the season, half as many as the Giants.
Getting to the quarterback has also been a problem. The Steelers are tied for 25th in the league with only 12 sacks, while the Giants have got to the opposing signal-caller 21 times.
Sunday’s game could come down to what defense makes the big plays and so far that is something this Steelers’ defense hasn’t proven it can do.
But it’s not just this season that the Steelers’ defense has been missing the big play.
Last season they ranked 18th in the NFL with only 35 sacks and forced only 15 turnovers all season. What’s sad about that is they have already matched their number of fumble recoveries from last season with four.
Just by comparison, in 2010 this Steelers’ defense picked off 21 passes and recovered 14 fumbles.
As far as the defense getting into the end zone? You have to go back to 2010 to see a defensive touchdown.
Pittsburgh has made a living in the past off making the big play on defense. To have any real success in terms of a playoff run, that is something they have to get back to. Preferably this Sunday.