As we’ve written several times, and as I’m sure you noticed, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pass rush is back. And in a big way. They’re tied for second in the league in sacks with 24, mainly because of the insane numbers Jacksonville has posted this year (they’re first with 33).
Compare that to a year ago when the Steelers had just eight. That ranked dead last in the league. They’ve added T.J. Watt, gotten back a (mostly) healthy Bud Dupree, and have done the little things right to contain the quarterback and finish sacks. But the why isn’t important, the results are. When the Steelers’ pass rush is potent, this defense – this team – goes places.
The last time Pittsburgh recorded at least 24 sacks through seven weeks was 2008. That’s right, the year they beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43.
Diversity has been a theme in how the Steelers have gotten those sacks. Of the 24, seven have come from the defensive line. A pair from the secondary. There’s a three-way tie for the team lead with inside linebacker Vince Williams part of that group. It’s been scheme and guys winning their matchups. There’s veterans who have done it, James Harrison had one of the year’s most crucial ones, and the rookies have chipped in, too, like Watt, who started the year off hot.
In 2008, they finished with 51 sacks. This year, they’re on pace for 54, one short of the franchise record set in 1994 and 2001.
It’s one of the most impressive turnarounds the Steelers have shown, not just since last year but perhaps in the entire Mike Tomlin era. To go from a year ago, where the pass rush was nonexistent to inconsistent, only perking up when Keith Butler forced the issue. Now, the Steelers are blitzing at the lowest clip in Butler’s tenure. But they’re enjoying their biggest success.
It all adds up to another Super Bowl run.