If the post season began today, the Pittsburgh Steelers would currently qualify as the #6 seed in the AFC. That seemed rather impossible a couple months ago but in an era of football that has become almost completely about the offense, the Steelers have managed to drag themselves into a playoff position because of their defense. The Steelers are averaging just over 19-points a game, which ranks 25th in the NFL but with one of the stingiest defenses this team has seen in quite some time, the Steelers have gone against the grain and found a way to make it work.
The best defenses can not only limit the amount of points that an opponent scores but they also get tougher as the game goes on. The Steelers can checkmark both of these requirements as they have allowed the seventh fewest amount of points per game while also sending out a defense that has only improved as the game progresses.
The Steelers are averaging just 9.2 points allowed in the second half of games, eighth fewest in the NFL. Over the last three games, the Keith Butler led defense has allowed just 13 points in the second half, the fewest in the NFL. Going back a bit further, it seems that the message sent by the defense to the offense has been clear since the bye week. Put some points on the board and we will take care of the rest. The Steelers are 4-1 since the bye week and a large reason why is the defense’s ability to hold down the fort late.
Gone are the days of the Steelers surrendering late fourth quarter leads as since the bye week, the Steelers have allowed just 19 points in the second half and just 13 points in the fourth quarter (not including the two safeties).
Second Half Points Allowed/ Fourth Quarter Points Allowed:
Vs Bengals: 3 second half points/ 0 fourth quarter points
Vs Browns: 7 second half points/ 7 fourth quarter points
Vs Rams: 3 second half points/ 0 fourth quarter points
Vs Colts: 6 second half points/ 6 fourth quarter points
Vs Dolphins: 0 second half points/ 0 fourth quarter points
The Browns and Colts have been the only team to find the end zone in the second half since the bye week but both of their scoring drives began in Steelers’ territory. The Browns began at the Pittsburgh four-yard line after a Mason Rudolph interception while the Colts began at the 30-yard line following a Jaylen Samuels fumble.
Over the last five games, the Steelers have not yet allowed a drive that has started in enemy territory end in seven points during the second half. The only touchdowns surrendered were the result of mistakes by the offense. Erase those and there is not a long, sustainable drive that ended in seven points to be found, which is very impressive.
Do not turn the ball over and we will not allow opponents to go ahead late – that seems to be the deal that the defense has brokered. While the Steelers have had many great defenses throughout the years, they have not had one with the reliability that this defense currently brings in quite some time. No matter how many points the offense has scored, there is a general feeling that it will be enough with this unit and that is a feeling of confidence that has not been felt in this city for a very long time.