They were the worst team in the league.
Emphasis on were.
If you landed on Earth today and just looked at the team stats, you’d think the Pittsburgh Steelers are doing pretty ok with their 24 sacks. That puts them tied for 14th in the NFL, above average, when two weeks ago, they were sitting in last place.
It’s a wonder what playing the Cleveland Browns can do. After eight sacks against them and another three versus the Indianapolis Colts Thursday, the Steelers have nearly doubled their season sack production the last two weeks. A minimal 13 through the first nine games, 11 after that.
Some of that has to do with, as the team basically pleaded for throughout, guys winning individual matchups. Playing the league’s two most sacked teams certainly helped create better opportunities. But Keith Butler has gone back to his ultra-aggressive defense – it’s fair to assume Mike Tomlin shoulders some of the blame for the team being so passive – that we saw last year and that’s what works for this defense. They’re at their best when they play fast and aggressive and the recent numbers reflect that.
The stats look at least acceptable but the bigger question, the better question, is if it’s sustainable. Or was it a byproduct of playing two bad teams under pretty good circumstances. The rest of the schedule is favorable but the real question is if they can carry over this type of production in the playoffs. Or will they revert back to their anemic ways of struggling to create the pressure they’ll need to beat the AFC’s best?
Those last two performances have probably created some type of temporary comfort. But it’s still a question mark for this team and the position, outside linebacker, the chief area of need after this season.
For the team’s sake, hopefully Butler keeps the pressure on. It’s the best, and maybe only, way to see this success continue.