After being ranked No. 1 over the past two seasons, this year's Steelers defense is amazingly still ranked sixth overall, first against the run.
Sounds reasonably decent, yet it isn't.
For any Steelers fan that has watched the team this season, that may be a little hard to believe, as this year's defense is nothing compared to last season's.
This is a perfect example of how stats can sometimes be misleading and don't factor in important game situations.
Last season, the Steelers allowed 10 points or fewer to five of their final seven opponents. Teams are scoring far more than that in the fourth quarter alone this season.
In fact, the Steelers have given up 43 points in the final quarter—22 to Green Bay, 21 to Oakland—over their last two home games. Overall, the Steelers' 121 points allowed in the fourth quarter are the second-most in the league. And, unfortunately, it has only been getting worse, as evidenced by a third of that being given up in the past two weeks.
The Steelers also hold the title of allowing the most touchdowns in the final 15 minutes this season, at 11.
On top of that, they aren't forcing turnovers. They haven’t intercepted a pass in six games, and no Pittsburgh cornerback has picked off a pass all season.
The Steelers recently acquired Joey Galloway, a wide receiver. Maybe they should focus on getting a cornerback, or another safety?
Pittsburgh will obviously benefit from the return of Troy Polamalu, who has been out all but five games this season, but, in the meantime, I certainly hope Mike Tomlin has something up his sleeve to help turn our defensive problems around.
I have not given up hope that the Steelers can gain their seventh win. Everything that has needed to happen to keep them alive has happened. All of the pieces for an end-of-season miracle seem to be falling into place.
Don't be surprised to see Polamalu out on the field very soon. Until things come together, though, Pittsburgh needs to put more focus on stoppings its opponents when it matters most.