7 Reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers' Defense Will Rank No. 1 Again in 2012

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7 Reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers' Defense Will Rank No. 1 Again in 2012
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been identified as a defensive team as a matter of tradition, and the annual on-field results have continued to bear out this perception amongst those in Steeler Nation since long before the team's winning ways.

Even dating back prior to the team's first every playoff win, a game and play appropriately dubbed as "The Immaculate Reception," men like the ferociously physical Ernie Stautner and peers have branded the Steelers defense as an imposing crew who would make opponents black n' blue from beneath their Black n' Gold.

While the opposition's bruises have remained, their wins have since subsided in the wake of regular defeats, and the Steelers have transformed from lovable losers to vicious victors.  Names like Jack Lambert, Joe Greene, Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson, Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu have carried on the intense defensive tradition in a winning way.

Last year, even though critics like Warren Sapp spewed prognostications of gloom and doom, citing the team's age as a weakness, the experienced bunch had great success again.  Despite absorbing some criticism last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense trumped the toll of naysayers' bells, ousting the alleged singing of fat ladies and once again finishing ranked atop the entire NFL in total defense by season's end. 

Naturally, despite a relative youth movement and release of "old" veterans, this season's defensive unit has naysayers foreseeing a collapse by virtue of the complete opposite argument.  Everyone's a critic, right?  In 2012, fans hope that the team will duplicate this success despite changes, locking the lips of cynics once again.

Here are some of the reasons fans can be optimistic about a positive result and No. 1 rank again this upcoming season.

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