Comparing the Defenses of the 2010, 2008, and 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers: Game No. 8 Edition

An interesting week for our season-long comparison of the 2010, 2008 and 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers' defenses, an exercise I began after just the second game of the season.  On the one hand, the Steelers played dominant defensive football against the Cincinnati Bengals, at least for three quarters. Dick LeBeau's group limited Carson Palmer & Co. to a meager 115 yards in the first half.  By game's end however, the Bengals had put up 21 points thanks to a 14 point fourth quarter aided by Steelers' mistakes.

The 2008 and 1976 defenses by comparison had monster performances in the eighth game of the season. Let's take a look.

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 *

 

Comparison Through 7 Games

Year Points Pts/Game Yards/Game Pass Y/G Rush Y/G Turnovers Sacks
2010 (5-2) 102 14.57 302.1 243.1 58.85 18 19
2008 (5-2) 110 15.7 236.4 164.4 71.56
12
25
1976 (3-4) 116
16.57
285 161.4 123.4 22 N / A *

 

 

Comparison Through 8 Games

Year Points Pts/Game Yards/Game Pass Y/G Rush Y/G Turnovers Sacks
2010 (6-2) 123 15.37 298.33 239.9 58.24 20 23
2008 (6-2) 116 14.5 235.7 163.97 70.1
14
32
1976 (4-4) 116
14.5 266.12 152.47 113.47 27 N / A *

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

**********

Game 8 Notes:

*  There was nothing too spectacular about the eighth game for this year's Steelers defense. At least nothing that the stat sheet tells you. The two turnovers were nice, and four sacks is nothing to sneeze at. But the important part of this week's game was the fact that Dick LeBeau's group got the final stop it needed to seal the game, even if it happened way too close to the endzone for the comfort of Steeler Nation.

* The eighth game for the 2008 defense was huge on so many levels. Firstly, seven sacks? On the road? That's incredible. On a Monday night when the offense struggled, especially in the first half when Roethlisberger labored with an injured shoulder, the play of the defense was an absolute godsend.

* All the '76 defense did in their eighth game was pitch their third straight shutout, a 23-0 thumping of the San Diego Chargers. The Steel Curtain continued to roar back not just to respectability, but to the top of the defensive standings after an abysmal start to the year. Five Chargers turnovers led to a blow-out victory for Chuck Noll's squad that afternoon.

**********

With the Patriots coming to town this weekend, it's hard to imagine the Steelers putting up gawdy defensive numbers, but it's very possible that they hold Tom Brady & Co. to under 20 points, while creating at least turnovers and sacking Justin Bieber's biggest fan four or five times. But all that matters this coming Sunday is a win, no matter how the black and gold gets it. Hopefully the defense can lead the charge towards a seventh victory on the year, but it wouldn't be at all surprising if the offense and/or special teams is needed in order to emerge victorious.

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