Just as they were a year ago, the Steelers go into their 9th game of the season with a 6-2 record. The 2009 defense will not yet be confused with the 2008 unit, but things are getting better. Below are the stats after 8 games for both the 2008 and 2009 defenses. The most glaring differences is the 3rd down percentage which improved mightily versus Denver. Also the 2009 defense is giving up 1.1 yard per play more, but that 4.8 still ranks them 4th in the AFC and 7th overall. While the 2009 unit is giving up .74 more yards per carry, that number also is good for a 2nd in the AFC and a 5th overall.
While these stats do not tell the whole story, they are encouraging numbers considering the amount of time starters have missed with injury. Most noticeable the 4 games that safety Troy Polamalu missed. Had he not missed those games, the 2009 defense could be right where the 2008 unit was at this point. The schedule will shift heavily into the Steelers favor after the Bengals game this weekend, as the final 7 opponents have a combined 15-33 record for a dismal .313 winning percentage. The 2 biggest games left would be both meetings with the Baltimore Ravens and the week 15 game against the visiting Packers.
|TOTAL FIRST DOWNS||126||137|
|3rd Down: Made/Att||39/117||47/111|
|3rd Down Pct.||33.3||42.3|
|4th Down: Made/Att||5/11||4/5|
|4th Down Pct.||45.5||80.0|
|TOTAL NET YARDS||1873||2279|
|Avg. Per Game||234.1||284.9|
|Avg. Per Play||3.7||4.8|
|NET YARDS RUSHING||561||563|
|Avg. Per Game||70.1||70.4|
|Avg. Per Attempt||2.92||3.66|
|NET YARDS PASSING||1312||1716|
|Avg. Per Game||164.0||214.5|