Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Perception Rules Weak Foes? So What; Credit D for 2-0 Start

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Perception Rules Weak Foes? So What; Credit D for 2-0 Start

Article excerpt

The question of the day for the Steelers' third-ranked defense: Are you that good or have the first two opponents been woefully undermanned?

That defense has allowed just 237 yards per game, 163 passing (fifth) and 74 yards rushing (eighth). That's impressive, but what wasn't impressive were the offenses of the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings.

The Steelers played against a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game in Cleveland, and then the NFC player of the week, Sam Bradford, could not go Sunday and the Vikings countered with Case Keenum with predictable results.

It is reminiscent of 2016 when the Steelers beat four backup quarterbacks (if Robert Griffin counts) and then a fifth in their playoff game against Miami.

It appeared the Steelers might get another backup Sunday in Chicago, but Bears coach John Fox announced he would stick with veteran Mike Glennon rather than go with rookie Mitchell Trubisky. The winless Bears lost Sunday to Tampa Bay, 29-7.

Either way, the Steelers defense will face another punchless offense, and that is OK by them.

"It doesn't matter who is out there, we're going out there to play whoever the other team puts out there and give it the best we have," linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "We just went out there, ready to run the game plan we had and ready to play against whoever it was."

After Chicago, the Steelers head to Baltimore, and it appears the back disc injury that kept quarterback Joe Flacco out of the entire preseason is, um, behind him. They play Jacksonville after that at home and, by then, Blake Bortles might no longer be the Jaguars starting quarterback, although the way he has played, the Steelers might be better off if he is.

The Steelers defense need not apologize. The New England Patriots did not when they beat the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger in October 2016, helping them earn the No. 1 seed instead of the Steelers and the easier road to their Super Bowl win.

Might it have been different Sunday at Heinz Field if Bradford played quarterback for the Vikings? …

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