Can Defense Push the Steelers to the Playoffs?

Samantha Cooke@sportycookieCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2008

The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known for their exceptional defense.  They won 4 Super Bowls with "The Steel Curtain" in the 1970's.  Most recently, the won Super Bowl XL in Detroit.  Can the Steelers make it to another playoff with their new revamped team and solid defense?

The Steelers are lead by Strong Safety Troy Polamalu.  Known mostly for his long, bushy 'do, Polamalu is used as an extra linebacker.  He blitzes, covers running backs and tight ends, and makes hard tackles.  The only weakness of Polamalu is that sometimes gets caught too far up near the line of scrimmage.  With the Steelers secondary, however, this is not really a big problem.

The Free Safety Ryan Clark helps Polamalu with downfield tackles.  He roams the secondary and has a keen sense of where the ball is going down the field.  Clark has no interceptions, but has 3 passes defensed this season and 27 tackles.  He helps out when Taylor or Townsend get beat.

Ike Taylor stays on the left side with Deshea Townsend on the right side.  Taylor and Townsend create a tough tandem for wide receivers.  They both have the speed and agility to stay with receivers; however, they have not faced an exceptional receiver yet this season.  In the upcoming weeks, they will face Cincinnati who is struggling this season.  You can never count out Ocho Cinco and Houshmandzadeh.  They will also face the Giants, Indianapolis, Dallas, and San Diego.

Taylor and Townsend can stick with the receivers, but they also get caught anticipating routes.  They have no interceptions on the season and together only have 3 passes defensed.  This will hurt in the upcoming weeks if they cannot get a hand on the ball.   

That being said, will the Steelers make the playoffs?  Arguably, the Steelers toughest competition in their division is the Baltimore Ravens.  The Ravens are 2-2 heading into this week with a game at Indianapolis.  They have 6 more road games this season, including Miami, the Giants, and Dallas. 

The Steelers best chance to make the playoffs is to win the division, which they should do.  They have some tough games, but they also have a bye this week to rest their running backs and quarterback.  The defense should keep them afloat until the offense hits their stride.  It will be a close division, but the Steelers should make it in.