"What a beautiful game; and I mean that. I just told the team that. People get too preoccupied with style points. That was a beautiful football game because we displayed mettle and we hung together."
- Mike Tomlin, 12/7/2008
For almost two decades, Steeler fans measured the arc of a season against the championship teams of the 1970's - the Steelers needed a dominant, ultra-talented roster on both sides of the ball to make big noise in the postseason.
Then it happened. In 2005, a football team (one that was not among the most talented teams in the league that year) simply went on a tear, winning their last 8 games and bringing home to Pittsburgh a fifth Lombardi Trophy.
After vanquishing the Cincinnati Bengals in the usual fashion, D-Day is here in the form of a Foxboro matchup against the undefeated Patriots. I'll break form a little bit and join every other media hack galaxy-wide in discussing The New England Patriots vs. The Victim of the Week, which happens to be the Steelers.
I keep a copy of the Pro Football Weekly Preview issue around for quick reference, a habit that pre-dates the Internet when you actually had to look up stats and schedules in the back of a book instead of pulling up every piece of data you could dream of with the click of a mouse.
Well, there's one line that has stuck with me all season long.
"The Steelers have a top-flight QB, a rugged defense and a team-wide toughness.
The Steelers's defense is currently leading the NFL in rushing defense (68.9 ypg), passing defense (168.7 ypg), and total defense (237.6 ypg). They are tied for the league in sacks (36). They are second in the league in scoring defense (15.0 ppg).
Beyond the numbers, this defense simply isn't allowing long scoring drives, and it routinely holds other teams to field goals when the offense leaves them a short field to defend. Forget comparing them with their peers around the league - this defense compares favorably to some of the greatest defenses in Steelers history.
I am the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers, and I approve this message.
Good evening, citizens of Steelers Nation.
There was a non-binding resolution passed in Washington last night, and I came out victorious.
But as you know, this is no time for complacency. In many other seasons, we've seen our party's ticket snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Too many times, we lost track of the prize and failed to leave it all on the road.
What is this Pittsburgh Steelers offense all about? There's more than one answer to that question, and that's mostly a good thing.
Is it what you saw on the opening drive of the game? The Steelers were a little out of whack but had a quarterback make two great plays, one to each of his top two wide outs to recover from 3rd and longs.
Call me crazy, but the turning point for the Steelers during the huge win againt the Jaguars was rookie return man Brian Witherspoon's 40 yard kickoff return.
Wait, that was a big play for the Jags, right? Sure, they got good field position, though they ended up punting.
But it was an even bigger play for the Steelers - they would have given up a touchdown on that return last season, no doubt, but these Steelers succeeded in keeping the game close. A return TD there would have made it 21-10, Jags. Same old, same old.