Like I wrote, this is not the second coming of the Steel Curtain. But they’re doing an awfully good impression.
Keith Butler and this Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense have accomplished their weekly goal of not giving up more than 16 points over the last two games. Twelve to Miami, 16 yesterday to the Chiefs.
For the Steelers, that’s something that hasn’t been seen in a long time. Here’s a list of Steelers’ defenses that allowed 16 or fewer points in two playoff games. Doesn’t even have to be consecutive, though this year, it obviously is. Just two along the whole playoff run.
Those other four years? The emergence and dominance of the Steel Curtain. Joe Greene. Jack Lambert. Jack Ham. L.C. Greenwood. Mel Blount. Donnie Shell. Names for the nostalgic.
And oh yeah, all those other four squads won a Super Bowl. It’s a good omen.
On the regular season, the Steelers’ defense manged to finish in the top ten in points allowed for the first time since 2012, arguably the last time the unit resembled anything close to great. Now, they’re sprinting back up to that level. The Chiefs, first and last drives aside, had zero answer yesterday. They couldn’t run, just 61 total yards, and the normally efficient Alex Smith was anything but. He completed under 60% of his passes, averaged five yards per attempt, threw a pick, and was sacked once.
Only two plays went longer for 20 yards and none more than 24. And it’s been led, in part, by a trio of rookies, the most unlikely of sources. Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Javon Hargrave. All three barely left the field yesterday and all three had a big impact in the win. Burns’ contested a throw in the end zone, breaking it up, Davis swatted away the game-trying two-point conversion, and Hargrave was stout against the run while mixing in some pressure.
It’s a useful compliment to the mix of veterans and the ones who have had to grow up fast. Lawrence Timmons next to Ryan Shazier. Stephon Tuitt next to Hargrave. Davis next to Mike Mitchell. Bud Dupree next to James Harrison.
If they can somehow shut down New England, it might be ok to call them the new Steel Curtain.
Someone toss Tuitt a Coca-Cola.