The current state of affairs for the Pittsburgh Steelers may seem to be playing out like an episode of the twilight zone for some. With all the surprises and twists that have flooded the team in such a short time span, it’s obvious to see why many scratching their head.
The juggernaut high speed offense that many expected has been stuck in neutral for majority of the season. The stout defensive front seven has been abused to the tone of two 200-yard rushing performances in the last three weeks. And the questionable secondary that many worried about in the offseason has been holding their own.
That’s not a typo, through five weeks of the season, the Steelers’ secondary unit has flown under the radar and emerged as the team’s strong point. Of course, much of the reason why the secondary play has flown under the radar has been because of how poor the other units have performed to date but through five weeks, the Steelers’ secondary remains at the top of its class.
The Steelers have allowed the third fewest receptions (41) and fewest yardage (417) to receivers this season. During their two losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears, the Steelers’ defense allowed just seven receptions to receivers which equates to the same number of receptions opposing defenses have nabbed off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
When it comes to quarterbacks, the secondary has once again held their ground, limiting opposing quarterbacks to a league best 820 passing yards and just three touchdowns – tied for second fewest in the NFL.
Now while the question of whether the Steelers improved pass defense is the result of the run defense being exposed, thus eliminating the need to pass or the additions of cornerbacks Joe Haden and Mike Hilton remains to be seen. But the answer cannot be evaded much longer.
Though the Steelers have side stepped elite quarterback play so far this season, that will come to an end Sunday. Awaiting the Steelers this Sunday are the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, led by quarterback Alex Smith.
Saying that Smith has been perfect through the Chiefs’ first five games this season would not be a far stretch. The Chiefs quarterback currently has 11 touchdown passes to zero interceptions and his 125.8 passer rating leads the NFL. For comparison’s sake, Smith’s passer rating is exactly 50 points higher than the Steelers’ own Roethlisberger.
With a trip to Kansas City in the books, the Steelers’ secondary will finally face the heat from the NFL’s best. For five weeks, the secondary has witnessed their teammates take heavy fire, remaining unscathed but now the call for duty has been ordered. And with the Steelers drifting at an uncomfortable 3-2, the time for the secondary to prove their worth could not have come at a better date.