Through the first nine games of the 2011 season the Pittsburgh Steelers had only taken the ball away from opponents four times, however on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals the defense finally made clutch plays to hold onto a close 24-17 victory. William Gay picked off the ball on what seemed to be the Bengals attempt to tie the games, as he overcame the adversity from the prior week when everyone blamed him for the loss in week nine to the Baltimore Ravens.
In all the Steelers were able to make opportunities on the defensive side of the ball by picking off Andy Dalton twice, despite his successful day in challenging the Steelers. Both interceptions of Dalton happened in the fourth quarter which was key in holding off this lively Bengals team. The defense finally did as they had in the past and remembered how to secure a win when they had a lead late in a ball game. This was something that fell apart against the Ravens just a week ago, when the defense allowed that 92 yard game winning scoring drive. This time around the Steelers locked it down and were able to be opportunistic in securing the win.
While their are areas on the defense that need to improve like the secondary coverage, and pressuring the quarterback, they finally were able to find the clutch play that had alluded them for much of the season. It was Gay who made a play and earlier in the game Lawrence Timmons made a great play to pick off Dalton.
There are some theories circulating that the Steelers don't get turnovers anymore because of the new rules dictated by the league when it comes to tackling. Some think that the Steelers are constantly in fear of being fined or penalized and this is the reason for the lack of the big play. While that may have some substance, most times its about being in the right place at the right time and that is what happened at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. Besides just those interceptions there were several other times in the game when balls were tipped or nearly picked off. Good defenses make opportunities out of their opponents mistakes and if the Steelers defense starts making headway with extra chances it will make them more dangerous heading down the stretch.
Lastly, the Steelers defense needs to be praised as they led the way to securing a much needed win in the AFC North and with a little help from the Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh is back in first place with a half game lead heading into their bye week.
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