Return of the Steel Curtain: Pittsburgh's No. 1 Defense Makes a Statement

Charlie CoxCorrespondent INovember 19, 2008

The 1970s keyed the Steelers' defense as the "Steel Curtain;" the unstoppable, immovable defensive unit that dominated the NFL throughout the '70s.

In today's NFL, shades of the "Steel Curtain" have shown themselves, almost bringing back that of the '70s.

Anchored by Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and James Farrior, the Steeler defense has made a statement for themselves; a statement that has landed them in the top rankings of the NFL.

Harrison leads the defense with 12 sacks, just three more than second-year outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. The Steelers have racked up 37 sacks this season and seven forced fumbles, first in the NFL.

The defense has only allowed a minimal 15 points a game, second in the league and lead in pass defense, rush defense and total defense; and they haven't been playing any bad offenses either.

The Steeler secondary has also been outstanding this season, the best in the past decade. They have recorded 10 interceptions on the season and are led by one of the most feared, and respected, players to ever play the game: Troy Polamalu, who has four of the 10 interceptions.

Just as John Madden said, "Defense wins championships," certainly has become the recent mantra for the Steelers. The defense has held particularly strong in the red zone and on short yardage situations, making up for the struggling Ben Roethlisberger and offense.

For a team that's ranked 24th in points scored (20.9), a 7-3 record is making a definite statement.

Defensive end Aaron Smith summed up the defense's play perfectly. “I think it’s our love for each other and playing for each other,” he said, “When we go out there we are not going out there as individuals we go out as a whole group. We put the group ahead of individuals.”

Smith isn't the only Steeler noticing the same phenomenon. Deshea Townsend also voiced his opinion on the chemistry of the defense, not only on the field, but in the locker room as well. “I just think all of the guys care about one another,” said Townsend also noting the jokes and fun in the locker room.

In the homestretch of the season and only six more games to go, the defense could see itself at the top of the NFL hierarchy all-time.

James Harrison is a candidate for NFL defensive player of the year, and the defense has a chance to send a handful of players to Hawaii for the Pro-Bowl.

The end of the season isn't any easier, but as long as the Steelers keep up the "love," a deep run into the playoffs, and possibly a Super Bowl, is in sight.

And to the rest of the league, watch out for the "Steel Curtain"-it's back.