Comparing the Defenses of the 2010, 2008, and 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers: Game No. 6 Edition

MIAMI - OCTOBER 24: Receiver Brandon Marshall #19 is brought down by the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sun Life Stadium on October 24 2010 in Miami Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

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.

Before we get to the numbers...obviously the Steelers' defense has looked less than stellar this past three weeks. They've allowed more than 300 yards in each of the previous four games. However, they're still in the top five in yards/play, as well as first in the category that matters most - points allowed. And they're almost 20 points clear of the second stingiest defense, the New York Jets. So while this defense may not be etching out its place in history necessarily, they're still doing a damn fine job week in and week out. How well Dick LeBeau's unit holds up with Aaron Smith out will go a long ways towards determining how far this team goes, as well as how this defense will be remembered by Steeler Nation in the years to come.

 

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 *

 

Comparison Through 6 Games

Year Points Pts/Game Yards/Game Pass Y/G Rush Y/G Turnovers Sacks
2010 (5-1) 82 13.66 299.5 235.66 63.9 16 17
2008 (5-1) 89 14.83 228.33 158.66 69.66
12
25
1976 (2-4) 116
19.33
307.33 177.83 129.33 21 N / A *

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

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