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Steelers Finish with Lowest Total Defense Since 1991

With Pittsburgh's complete annihilation of the hapless Browns in the final week of the season, they finished the 2008 regular season as the stingiest overall defense (237.2 yards per game) since the 1991 Eagles, who gave up an appaling 221.8 yards per game.

It's the second consecutive year the Steelers have earned the top spot. They allowed 266.4 yards per game last year, besting Tampa Bay's 278.4 in 2007.

The Steelers surrendered a league-low 156.9 passing yards per contest, 23 yards fewer than second place Baltimore (179.7). They finished second against the run, giving up 80.2. Minnesota allowed 76.9.

It's the fourth time since 2001 they've finished the regular season as the league's top-ranked defense. That's more than any other team over that stretch. They finished in the top five in five of those years (2008, 2007, 2005, 2004 and 2001).  

The Steelers also led the league in scoring defense, giving up an average of 13.9 points per game. Pittsburgh became the first team since 1971 to go 14 consecutive games without giving up 300 or more yards to its opponent. The only team that achieved that mark was Tennessee - the Titans had 322 total yards in a 34-14 victory in Week 16.

It remains to be seen how much that will help the No. 2-seeded Steelers. The 2005 version of the team was the last in the NFL to be ranked in the top five of total defense and go on to win a Super Bowl. The 2002 Buccaneers were the last to finish first in total defense and win a Super Bowl.

It should be noted that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was the defensive backs coach of that Tampa Bay team, and one of his players, free safety Dexter Jackson, was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXVIII.

That defense lifted the Steelers to a 12-4 overall record, with their only losses coming to playoff-bound teams - Tennessee, New York Giants (the No. 1 seeds), Indianapolis and Philadelphia. Pittsburgh did not surrender a 100-yard rusher, and finished second in the NFL with 51 sacks.