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Polamalu, Keisel key to holding defense together


So this was Mike Tomlin’s plan all along.
Have three of his four starting linebackers go down with injuries so he could finally implement the defense he was weaned on.
We all knew it was a matter time before Tomlin went back to his roots, and he said at his weekly news conference that the Steelers may indeed use some 4-3 alignment against the Ravens.
It is the same defense many fans feared Tomlin would bring with him from Minnesota when the Steelers hired him in 2007.
Not that there should be concern that the 4-3 the Steelers may use Sunday night is anything more than a temporary response to an emergency situation. Nor is there as much of a difference between a 4-3 and 3-4 defense as some might think.
The Steelers will, in fact, show the Ravens multiple looks throughout the nationally televised game at Heinz Field. And they figure to play a lot of nickel given their strength at defensive back and the versatility that Troy Polamalu provides.
Polamalu, as he has done at various times this season, could line up almost like a linebacker and cover the tight end in passing situations. The Ravens will also be mindful that Polamalu is a threat to blitz from anywhere on the field.
Defensive end Brett Keisel is also the key to holding the Steelers’ defense together following a rash of injuries at linebacker.
The 6-6, 285-pounder has been playing at a high level since returning from an early knee injury, and Polamalu may be the only player on the Steelers’ defense that is more versatile than Keisel.
Keisel is a good enough pass rusher to give the Steelers push off the edge if they employ a 4-3 alignment. is also athletic enough to play standing up if the Steelers need to use him as a linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.

— Scott Brown



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