When you say the name Pittsburgh Steelers, the first thought that comes to mind is defense, and since the 1990′s, part of that defense has included a ferocious pass rush.
The past couple of seasons, especially this one, those Steelers are still associated with defense, but that is on name recognition alone.
It’s certainly nothing they have done on the field.
Big plays used to be a staple of the Steelers defense, but they forced only 15 turnovers in 2011 and are on pace to finish worse than that this season, taking the ball way only 12 times.
Even worse, that Steelers’ defense has scored only one defensive touchdown since the end of the 2010 campaign.
But the biggest thing missing from the Steelers’ defense is the pass rush. Quite simply they just can’t get to opposing quarterbacks.
They rank 23rd in the NFL with only 26 sacks on the season, but it is just not bringing down the opposing quarterback; it is the fact that they are barely pressuring them. Their 26 sacks also has them on pace to finish even worse than they did a season ago when they recorded only 35.
Jason Worilds leads the team with a mere five sacks.
Guys like LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison have done very little when they’ve been healthy and their replacements, other than Worilds haven’t fared much better.
Facing a quarterback like the Cowboys’ Tony Romo on Sunday, that Steelers’ pass rush must come to play.
Romo will make mistakes if the Steelers apply pressure. San Diego’s Phillip Rivers would have also, but there was no pressure through four quarters.
With the Steelers season practically on the line Sunday, the pressure lies on the front seven to get to Romo.
If they do, the Steelers may live to play another week. If we keep seeing efforts like we have seen throughout the first 14 weeks, it will likely be an early offseason.