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Steelers defensive line brings the pressure


Mark Kaboly  | Tribune-Review


In a wave of negativity surrounding the Steelers opening-season 16-9 loss to Tennessee, some encouraging things actually have been overlooked – like the play of the defensive line.


In a 3-4 alignment, the defensive line isn’t supposed to pressure the quarterback. Their job is to be gap sound and occupy blocks in order to allow the linebackers to make the tackle.


Against the Titans, the defensive line did that and also brought the pressure to Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker.


According to the Steelers official miscellaneous stat book put together by coaches after watching the film, the Steelers had 13 pressures – 11 coming from the defensive line.


That might not sound like much but you have to take into account that last year the unit managed only 77 in 16 games with 40 of them coming from Brett Keisel. Also, the 11 pressures by the defensive linemen are more than double what they averaged a year ago (4.8).


“It is great to hear that but when you ain’t got no W up there it doesn’t matter what kind of pressure numbers or tackles or sacks you have,” defensive end Ziggy Hood said. “Nothing is worse than a loss.”


The hope of a defensive line that consists of a pair of first-round picks is finally contributing is exciting to Keisel.


“We have to get guys into situations where they can do that,” Keisel said. “It can be a strength for us. We have to get teams in situations where we can apply pressure.”


Consider this:


Cameron Heyward, a first-round pick three years ago, had four pressures all of last year. He has three against the Titans in limited action.


Steve McLendon, who replaced Casey Hampton at nose tackle, had six last year. He had three against the Titans. Hood contributed one as well


“As a whole, we played pretty solid up front,” Keisel said. “That’s what we have to do. Those guys have a lot of expectations and they are living up to it so far.”


Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug


  1. Paul J Raspa says:

    The D Line looked good but here is a fact that I do not understand…. If our D lINE Is Good and we practice against our D why can we not create holes for our running game? The answer is pretty clear– The opposing D knows what’s coming — So here is what I suggest — Line up 6 Lineman along with Will Johnson as your FB AND Dwyer/Jones as your RB. the WR HAVE 1 SLOT RIGHT AND THE OTHER Wide left — CHALLENGE THE OPPOSING D AND RUN THE DAMN BALL RIGHT UP THE MIDDLE!!!!
    Then Devlop off of that — if the CB are giving you 7yds audible and take 4-5 yds on a Hot Read …
    I do not think Wil Johnson or David Paulson caught a Ball Sunday —- Let’s get them in the GAME!!!!!

  2. Paul J Raspa says:

    with regards to the D line– McLendon is a HUGE UPGRADE to Hampton… Casey may have been a great run stuffer but Steve can Bring a Pass rush … Hoood and Hey ward need to really upgrade their game..Kiesel is good but looks a little tired sometimes…
    I still think we would have a Better 4-3 …. MCLENDON AND WOODS AT THE DT SPOTS AND KIESEL AND HOOD/HEYWARD AT THE DE SPOTS… Our D is at it’s best when we are in the QB’S face…. We need to avg 3+ sacks per game!!

  3. jimbo says:

    Absolutely….I noticed it and Im finally glad someone has pulled themselves off the ledge and noticed the play of defense, and, in particular, the line! I never remember our line THAT active, and IO think twinkle-toes McClendon was the spark. No more fatty Hampton.

  4. j-town jim says:

    pressure is just a stat to cover up the fact you can’t get sacks.

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  6. You guys had done a good conversation on Steelers defensive line. Thanks for sharing the post and will be looking for much in future.

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