Comparing the Defenses of the 2010, 2008, and 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers: Game No. 5 Edition

For those new to the site, here's the origin of the weekly post idea.

I've read several people mention the hallowed 1976 defense and how this year's unit has the potential to be that dominant. It's doubtful that a defense will ever match the statistical greatness of that year's defense, if only because offenses are so much more competent today than they were back then. It's just not likely that Dick LeBeau's group will be able to do things like pitch shutouts in three straight games and five of their final eight.

Can this year's D be as stingy as they were in 2008 when they led the league in points allowed, passing yards allowed, and finished second in rushing yards and sacks? It's quite possible if the first two weeks of action are any indication. So, new weekly story idea is born: let's compare the '76, the '08 and the '10 defensive performances by week, at least until it no longer makes sense to do so. Hopefully though the Steelers' defense continues their outstanding play into the fall and winter months.

Comparison Through 2 Games
Year Points Pts/Game Yards/Game Pass Y/G Rush Y/G Turnovers Sacks
2010 (3-0) 20 10 266.5 214.5 52 8 6
2008 (2-1) 23 11.5 221 157 64 5 7
1976 (1-1) 45 22.5 385 254.5 130.5 8 N / A *
Comparison Through 3 Games
Year Points Pts/Game Yards/Game Pass Y/G Rush Y/G Turnovers Sacks
2010 (3-0) 33 11 278.66 219 59.66 10 10
2008 (2-1) 38 12.67 234 69.67 64.33 8 10
1976 (1-2) 75 25 389.66 255.33 134.33 12 N / A *

Comparison Through 4 Games
Year Points Pts/Game Yards/Game Pass Y/G Rush Y/G Turnovers Sacks
2010 (3-1) 50 12.5 289 226.75 62.25 12 11
2008 (3-1) 58 14.5 236.25 162.25 74
11
15
1976 (1-3) 92
23
336.75 198 138.75 16 N / A *

 

Comparison Through 5 Games
Year Points Pts/Game Yards/Game Pass Y/G Rush Y/G Turnovers Sacks
2010 (4-1) 60 12 296.8 233 63.8 15 16
2008 (4-1) 79 15.8 231.6 164.8 66.8
11
18
1976 (1-4) 110
22
334.6 194.2 140.4 18 N / A *

*Sacks, of course, had not yet become an official stat in 1976, so we unfortunately can't track and compare that category.

When you're ahead in every ball game, it's hard to keep opponent's total yardage totals down. Yet again, the Steelers defense surrenders quite a few yards late in the game with the outcome long since been decided. While that upset me earlier in the year, I'm no longer greedily hoping that this year's unit can match the ridiculous yards per game totals posted by the 2008 defense. So long as this year's defense continues to make teams work extraordinarily hard for every last point, I'm more than content. In fact, just as soon as I feel better, I'd like to take a look at just how well the Steelers are doing at 'bending but not breaking', or said differently, just how many yards opposing teams are having to accumulate just to post 12 measly points per game.

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