Steelers defense reminding Cincinnati who's been on top

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers and Bengals have, player for player, two of the better defenses in the NFL. Don't tell that to the Steelers, though. They aren't interested in Cincinnati's defense.

Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette has a notebook full of choice quotes from Steelers defensive players who were asked their thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals defense.

If nothing else, it's good to see the pride they take in their work.

Bouchette quoted defensive end Ziggy Hood: " "Nah, I don't believe the hype," said Ziggy Hood. "I know what our defense can do out there on the field. We'll find out come Monday night."

And the ever-opinionated Ryan Clark: "Yeah, but did they win the Super Bowl?" Clark asked. "Neither did we, so who cares about Week [16] from last year. I'm not interested in it. Leon Hall made a play. I believe in that game we had two picks, a recovered fumble. If we're comparing it like that, I feel we did our part, as well."

Thems not exactly fightin' words, but clearly, the Steelers defense has seen the rise of the Bengals, a team that finished 26th in team defense as recently as 2011.

Frequent are the challengers to the Steelers' annual perch at or near the top of the defensive statistical categories. Recently, the trend has been steady in terms of yards allowed, but sharp reductions in takeaways and sacks.

That may be changing, though. According to Bouchette, the Steelers' coaching staff credited the Steelers with 13 pressures in their Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Quarterback Jake Locker was 11-for-20 in the game for 125 yards and no touchdowns.

But no picks and only one sack.

The Bengals, and quarterback Andy Dalton, are more of the aberration to the norm of splashless Steelers stats. In four career games, Dalton in 1-3 and has thrown five interceptions to four touchdowns, and threw more than one pick in two of those games. The Steelers have sacked Dalton nine times in those four games.

The Steelers defense may own a level of superiority when comparing each team's defense to the other, but as Clark told Bouchette, "In the 2013 season, though, both defenses are 0-1 and that's what matters."

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