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Defensive Playmakers; Quarterback Nightmares

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Aug 18, 2011; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers safety

Troy Polamalu

(43) against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of the game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

Pittsburgh Steelers, James Harrison (LB) and Troy Polamalu (S);

Historically, this has been a team of just pure dominance. A team that even with an injury or locke room distraction, finds a way to win. They just get the job done. last season the Steelers were ranked 1st in the NFL in total defense. This was manly accredited to Linebacker, James Harrison and Safety, Troy Polamalu. We all know that Harrison is an absolute nightmare for quarterbacks, but Troy Polamalu is the driving force behind this defense. This season without the pressure of Harrison and the force of Polamalu, the Steelers have dropped to 7th overall in total defense and 16th overall in the ESPN Week 3 Power Rankings. You can make the argument that Harrison has meant more because of Polamalu’s age, but Harrison is not a young one himself. The argument that needs to be made, is how the Steelers fair when Polamalu is playing well or not playing at all.

As stated earlier, the rank this season without Polamalu is 7th. The Steelers are also at a 1-2 record. The last time the Steelers defense was not in a top 5 position was in 2006 (9th). Since 2003, the rankings have gone as so.

In 2003 they finished 9th. This was Polamalu’s rookie year. He had 38 tackles and 0 interceptions.

In 2004 they finished 1st, and Polamalu had tackles/intercpetions of 96/5.

In 2005 they placed 4th, and he had 91/2.

2006 was the 9th ranking. Polamalu only played 13 games that season, so he was not fully healthy. He had 77/3.

In 2007 he only played 11 game, had 58 tackles and o interceptions; however James Harrison stepped it up with 98 tackles and 7 forced fumbles. The Steelers finished 1st overall.

The 2008 season Polamalu had  73 tackles and 7 interceptions. The team placed 1st for the 2nd year in a row and the third time in Polamalu’s 6th season.

Now 2009 is interesting. Polamalu did damage to his knee in the first game against Tennessee on a blocked field goal recovery. He only played 5 games that season, recording 20 tackles with 3 interceptions. That season Harrison forced 5 fumbles and had 79 tackles. The team finished 5th.

Then in 2010 he played 14 games, recorded 63 tackles, 7 interceptions, and played in 14 of 16 games.

Last season he played in all 16 games, had 91 tackles and two interceptions. The Steelers placed 1st in total defense that year for the 4th time in Polamalu’s carrer. They finished in the top 10 for the 9th consecutive year, and the top for the 5 straight season.

When Polamalu is healthy, this defense is at its best. With Polamalu probable this week and Harrison questionable and soon to return, look for that ranking of 7th to jump back up into the top five if not higher.

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