Pittsburgh Steelers In Super Bowl Form
By Nabeel Ahmadieh. 9/28/10. 4:30 PM.
It’s been three weeks of football action and with all that’s been swallowed and chewed we have three teams standing undefeated thus far. Those three teams include the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears and the team with the most Vince Lombardi trophies — the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Each of those three teams is a rather surprise to most. The Steelers are without two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Chiefs were pathetic last season and currently only one win away from tying their wins from last season. Chicago went 7-9 and everyone in town wasn’t pleased with their new quarterback.
Of those three, the Steelers are the only ones with a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at what has unfolded so far this season.
Prior to the start of the season quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games, later reduced to four, for basically being a huge creep. What ensued was a competition between back-up quarterbacks Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich.
Along with the competition, followed speculation of the record Big Ben would inherit when he came back Week 5. Experts and analysts reiterated a common theme of 1-3 or 2-2 in the first four games. So Big Ben would then have to take an average team and improve them drastically to have a shot at the postseason.
Here we are today, and boy were the critics wrong. The Steelers have not only started off well, but have started off better than anyone else in the National Football League. The coaching staff has this team winning on the defensive side of the ball and wearing down opponents with their running game.
The void at quarterback has been filled for two games by Dennis Dixon and the remaining third game by Charlie Batch. Both have played well, but nothing overly exceptional. In three games combined they’ve completed 39/60 pass attempts, 465 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Solid but not-so special production from your clipboard holders.
They’ve used their stud running back Rashard Mendenhall a lot, pounding away with 64 carries, 332 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Averaging 5.2 yards per carry, including a game-winning 50 yard run against the Atlanta Falcons to win the game in overtime. A game in which the defense did a phenomenal job holding the Falcons offense to only nine points.
While the offense has been solid, the defense is winning them ball games. The defense has been great thanks in large part to Pro Bowl Safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu is this teams most valuable player and arguably the best defensive player in the league.
Last season Polamalu missed significant time due to a left knee injury. In Polamalu's five stars last season, the Steelers were 4-1 and Pittsburgh held opponents to 13.8 points per contest. That one loss, Polamalu left the game due to injury in the very first quarter against the Bengals. Without Polamalu, things were drastically different giving up 23.2 points per game and recording a record of 5-6. Plain and simple, this defense is dominant with Polamalu on the field and lost without him when he’s not.
With their star safety the Steelers have returned to the form that won them Super Bowls in 2006 and 2009. Their defense has held opponents to a league best 11 points per game, they’ve recorded 10 sacks, thanks to the likes of outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, and have a plus-six turnover ratio with five interceptions (two belonging to Polamalu) and five fumbles recovered. The opponents they have faced seem frightened and shook offensively.
Their opponents aren’t low-caliber units either. Two playoff contending teams with the Atlanta Falcons and the Tennessee Titans and a young Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that stood 2-0 at the time the Steelers dismantled them 38-13.
Against two of the best running backs in the league — Michael Turner (ATL) and Chris Johnson (TEN) — the defense held them to under 2.2 yards per carry. The turnovers they forced on Vince Young got him benched for a 37 year old quarterback who went a pitiful 0-6 last season.
Leading the NFL’s best defense is defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Regaining his MVP on defense back from last season has helped this team rediscover their swagger. Soon the defense wont be the only side of the ball to regain rhythm.
We find ourselves only one game away before the Steelers have their franchise quarterback on offense back — Ben Roethlisberger. Already a proven winner, Big Ben will be walking into a perfect situation, with the load of pressure lightened upon his arrival.
It’s early in the season, but right now in the National Football League there is not one team ahead of the Steelers that is a fitting pick to win the Super Bowl.
Please add a comment
Jul 31st, 2011
Good point. I hadn't toghuht about it quite that way. :)
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