Some laudatory notes on the play of the defense tonight.
* You don't hold down James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in consecutive weeks. After being held without a sack last Sunday against the Giants, Woodley and Harrison returned to their normal disruptive form. Harrison finished with 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Woodley recorded 2 sacks himself. For the season, Silverback now has 10 sacks, with Woodley trailing by just 1/2 sack at 9.5. I must say, my favorite sack was when a Reskins RB (probably Portis, but not sure) tried to cut Woodley, and he nimbly jumped over him before regaining his balance and then quickly resuming his hunt of Jason Campbell..all in a split second. Pretty sick for a dude who weighs more than any pass-rushing Steelers LB in team history.
* The sack parade didn't end there. Nick Eason, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, and Lawrence Timmons also got in on the action. Woodley did most of the dirty work on Smith's sack, but since Smith does most of the dirty work for everyone else's accolades, I was pleased for him to get a cheap statistical boost there. Every little bit to help send the heart and soul of our defense to Honolulu!
* Speaking of heart and one of the main engines behind our defense...James Farrior. Man, after a few so-so games in the first quarter of the year, Farrior has been a beast the past couple of weeks. Give Potsie 11 tackles, 2 assists, and half a sack on the game. And am I mistaken when I say he was the one responsible for deflecting the pass that Deshea picked off? I believe it was him, and if not, he made another big play in the passing game when the Redskins opted to throw to the ball with play-action on 4th and goal from the 1 in the fourth quarter. This guy still has it. Oh, last thing about Farrior. In my opinion, the reason we saw Mike Tomlin get so livid about the roughing call on Farrior late in the game was because it was him who was involved in the play. Tomlin sticks up for all his guys, but there's no classier warrior out there than Farrior. Tomlin knows that and the refs should know that over a decade into his career.
* I suppose the play of the special teams does not deserve its own post. We did after all have to sit through a number of suspect Mitch Berger punts (though to his credit, he had some booming kicks too), and Jeff Reed shanked an XP attempt. And not surprisingly, we failed to again muster much in the return game, though Santonio Holmes showed signs that if given enough chances, he's going to break one. And oh yeah, almost forgot. We failed on an onsides attempt to start the game, that essentially gift-wrapped 3 points for them. All that said, Andre Frazier was responsible for one of the three biggest plays of the game. (The other two being Carlos Rogers' blown pick-6 in the first half and Leftwich's early strike to Nate). Really, can you remember the last time we made such a huge play on special teams? It's highly unlikely we take a 10-6 lead into halftime without that play. Again, give credit where credit is due. Our special teams, which were much maligned last year, have largely been very respectable for us this year, if not in our own return game, than certainly with our coverage units. And tonight, we got even more. HUGE!
* Two weeks - three goal line stands. You can move the ball on this defense at times (rarely, but occasionally), and our offense certainly has a knack for compromising it field position wise at times, but I'll tell you what: you have to work for every last bit against this defense. Even when opposing offenses are knocking on the door, nothing's a given. It's truly remarkable what this unit has been able to do all year.
* Isn't it amazing that we have a Hall of Fame worthy nose tackle in Casey Hampton and a backup NT in Chris Hoke that finds a way to nearly match him clogged gap for clogged gap? Sheesh, how are some of these guys like Hoke and Nick Eason continuing to improve at their respective ages? I'm not sure really. Credit their heart and effort and credit the coaches I suppose. Other than that, just enjoy being the most deep defense in the National Football League.
* If there was an area of concern heading into this game for our defense, it would have to have been the secondary. With Ryan Clarke and Bryant McFadden sidelined, we were going to have to rely on William Gay, Tyrone Carter, and Anthony Smith. As well as Deshea Townsend, who we all might agree is better in a secondary role as a nickel guy. But tonight, they all delivered. Every last one of them, including Tyrone Carter, who seems to be the consensus choice for the most underwhelming of our group. Well, give Carter some credit for tonight. We're hard on him and the rest of the team during the bad times. It's important to celebrate the good moments for a Pittsburgh Steeler who is very well liked (from what I can surmise and what little I know about the team dynamics). Perhaps special props should go to William Gay, who proved why he may very well be a suitable fill-in for McFadden if he so chooses to chase the Benjamins in another market after this year.
For the evening, we held the Skins and Jason Campbell to just 24/43 passing for 206 yards and 2 INTs. That's less than 5 yards per attempt folks. AMAZING. And don't forget, a big chunk of those positive plays came during garbage time. Since you asked, 61 yards came on WAS's final two drives and 127 came on their final three drives. So, take out their final three possesions and we held them to basically 100 yards of offense through three quarters. WOW.
Really, is there any more that needs to be said?