Steelers' defense looks ready to go
What a difference a game plan makes.
As advertised, the Steelers promised to pretend that Saturday night's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings was actually a regular-season contest.
No more plain-vanilla defense. More like tutti-frutti.
Starting with a steady diet of Aaron Smith terrorizing Minnesota's backfield.
Smith, the starting left end, looked as quick and strong as he did at any point last season before suffering a biceps injury that caused him to miss the final four games. He had three tackles and one sack in the first quarter.
Led by Smith, the Steelers limited Minnesota to 13 yards on its first eight plays.
On Minnesota's opening drive, the Steelers' different looks confused the Vikings, who were called for three false starts and were forced to punt after failing to convert on third and 23.
During that series, second-year linebacker Lawrence Timmons, becoming more and more of a fixture in the rotation, flanked out wide to his left and shadowed receiver Aundrae Allison.
The Steelers were most dangerous when they had only two defensive linemen on the field, Smith and right end Brett Keisel. The formation worked best in obvious passing situations, which was a tribute to the Steelers and their ability to stifle dangerous running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson never got untracked. He leaped over the top of the defense for a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter following a Rashard Mendenhall fumble at the Steelers' 47.
Faced with a short field, the Steelers couldn't shut down Minnesota's short passing game and failed to keep the Vikings out of the end zone.
Still, the Steelers provided evidence that they learned a lesson from last week's loss to Buffalo. Their defense aggressively attacked the ball but did so within the confines of the system.
When Peterson attempted to run wide left on first and goal, the Steelers remained in their lanes and strung out the play. Safety Tyrone Carter and Timmons pushed Peterson out of bounds for a 3-yard loss.
In the second quarter, cornerback Ike Taylor jumped a sideline route and intercepted Gus Frerotte's pass intended for Sidney Rice, giving the Steelers a first down deep in Minnesota territory.
The turnover gift-wrapped a Jeff Reed field goal that sliced Minnesota's lead to 7-3 while providing more than enough evidence that the regular season can't start soon enough for the Steelers' defense.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bryant suspension opens doors for other Steelers’ receivers
- Steelers trade 6th-round pick for Jaguars kicker Scobee
- Steelers WR Bryant’s suspension upheld
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison believes Goodell will prevail in Brady ruling
- RB Williams believes he’s making seamless transition to Steelers
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in preseason loss at Bills
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin mum on Bryant suspension
- QB Vick hits ground running in debut
- Steelers won’t change scheme after Pouncey injury
- Starkey: Steelers stopping themselves with suspensions