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Thread: Steelers Defense Stepped Up In 2nd Half

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    Default Steelers Defense Stepped Up In 2nd Half

    Defense stepped up in 2nd half
    January 16, 2011 01:39 AM TEXT SIZE
    Herald Standard

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    PITTSBURGH - Brett Keisel could laugh at the question after the game, but certainly not during the first half of the game.

    Keisel was asked if it had helped the Steelers to pick up a Pro Bowler before the game.

    Of course, Keisel had just been added to the Pro Bowl roster. It was announced to the home crowd just after the Baltimore Ravens had taken a 14-7 lead.

    That lead eventually reached 21-7, before a stunning second-half rally - launched by the Steelers' defense - resulted in a 31-24 Steelers win.

    "They announced it right after they scored," said Keisel. "I'm sitting there ****ed off on the sideline. I wanted to stand up and blow the crowd kisses but I really couldn't."

    No one on the Steelers' sideline was in the mood to blow anyone kisses as they filed into the locker room down by two touchdowns.

    It was a quiet locker room, a frustrated locker room. But defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau gathered his troops and spoke in a measured tone.

    "He just showed us on a piece of paper how they scored, from where they scored,

    showed us how many big plays they had," said Casey Hampton. "And when you looked at it, they didn't have any. So we knew that we just had to do what we had to do. There was no panic."

    The Steelers had allowed only 98 yards in the first half, yet trailed 21-7 because of a couple of turnovers and a 33-yard pass interference penalty.

    "We knew they couldn't sustain a drive on us," Hampton said. "We had to do what we had to do. Everybody had to stay on their keys."

    And the Ravens gained only 28 yards in the second half.

    How's that for reading the keys?

    "We got hot in the third quarter," said James Farrior. "I think we rattled (Joe) Flacco a little bit and got him out of his game. Our pressure was outstanding for the whole second half. I think that made a big difference."

    The Steelers, who had no sacks in the first half, had five in the second. The first, by James Harrison with help from Keisel, occurred on Baltimore's first snap. And after Ziggy Hood stuffed Ray Rice, Flacco threw a checkdown to Rice. The Steelers were looking for it - per their game plan - and Ryan Clark forced a fumble that LaMarr Woodley recovered. Two plays later, the Ravens' lead was cut in half.

    A three-and-out was followed by another doomed Ravens series. On the first play, from the Baltimore 10, Troy Polamalu snuck to the edge. Flacco spotted him, checked off, and threw deep. The pass was intercepted by Clark and the Steelers tied the game four plays later.

    With 1:10 left in Baltimore's abominable third quarter, Flacco fumbled a center snap and Keisel recovered. The Steelers kicked a field goal and the momentum was all theirs.

    In the third quarter, the Ravens ran 10 plays, lost 4 yards, and had 2 turnovers.
    "I think he might've got a little shook up," Harrison said of Flacco. "When you've got guys hitting you from every angle, and you're not really getting a clean look at anything, yeah, I think it might've shook him a little."

    When pressed for particular defensive standouts, Keisel praised Hood and Farrior credited Clark. But Clark said the comeback had everything to do with team.

    "The biggest thing is that we play for each other," Clark said. "It was embarrassing. All this talk about a 3-point game all the time and it's always close, but we were getting blown out. I think the biggest thing was coming out and playing for each other. And then we made some plays.
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    Default Re: Steelers Defense Stepped Up In 2nd Half

    Steelers' defensive stand in second half shuts down Ravens

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Defensive dominance
    Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

    Heinz Field was a lively place at the start of Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game between the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, the third meeting of the season involving these long-standing and bitter rivals. But by halftime the stadium had become sullen and still. The Ravens led by two touchdowns, a thoroughly unacceptable occurrence for most of the 64,879 in attendance.

    "To be down 14 against a great defense like that, the odds are against you, really," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "Fortunately, we didn't quit."

    Mainly, the defense brought them back. The Steelers hounded the Ravens into three turnovers and five sacks three by James Harrison in the final 30 minutes to transform the game, and themselves, in their 31-24 win over Baltimore.

    "I just know when we came out in the second half, we made enough plays to have an impact," Keisel said. "And that's what great teams do."

    It was a good day all around for the nine-year veteran, who learned beforehand that he was picked to his first Pro Bowl as a late replacement. The crowd got the news just after the Ravens drove 68 yards in 10 plays to tie the score in the first quarter after the Steelers had taken a 7-0 lead. The drive actually covered 78 yards because of a penalty on the first play.

    Stroking his flowing, lumberjack's beard, Keisel joked that the timing of the announcement might have been better. "How could they do that after we scored," he said.

    He gladly accepted the honor, saying it was a long-sought goal. But like anyone in the playoffs, he said he would prefer to be a no-show. If you play in the Pro Bowl it means you don't play in the Super Bowl, which is the following week.

    "I'd rather not go," he said. "I want to get that pinky ring, you know what I'm saying? I'd love to get (three) Super Bowl rings."

    The prospects seemed bleak at halftime, but the Steelers eliminated the mistakes that created their difficulties and smothered the Ravens, who gained all of four yards in the third quarter.

    "Nobody's head was down (at halftime)," second-year defensive end Ziggy Hood said. "In fact, I saw more smiles than anything."

    With Hood replacing injured veteran Aaron Smith, who suffered a torn left triceps on Oct. 24 and has yet to return, the defense has remained sturdy.

    "Ziggy grew up a whole lot today," veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton said.

    "Fortunately for us we've got some good, young players who are big-time ballers," Keisel said. "Ziggy, I can't say enough about the kid. I'm proud of him."

    After Baltimore's first quarter touchdown drive, which ended on Ray Rice's 14-yard run with 1:20 left in the quarter, the Ravens managed just 58 yards the rest of the game, 28 in the second half.

    No one expected the Ravens to run much on the NFL's top rushing defense. But the Steelers constantly hounded quarterback Joe Flacco. His top two wide receivers, Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin, combined for one reception for minus-2 yards even though Steelers starting quarterback Bryant McFadden left the game in the first quarter with a hip injury.

    Flacco completed 16 of 30 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and one interception to go with the five sacks.

    "The guys rattled the quarterback a little bit," Hampton said. "You do that, no quarterback's gonna do anything."

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    Default Re: Steelers Defense Stepped Up In 2nd Half

    I'll just say if the defense doesn't get those turnovers in the 3rd quarter no way are the Steelers winning that game. Defense definitely did their job, especially in the 2nd half.

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