Monday, January 03, 2011
By Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CLEVELAND -- The Steelers easily finished the regular season with the best rush defense in the National Football League and came close to finishing with one of the best in league history.
After allowing the Cleveland Browns to rush for 43 yards on 17 carries in Sunday's 41-9 victory, the Steelers set a franchise record for allowing the fewest yards rushing in a season (1,004) and fewest yards per game (62.8).
That eclipsed the old record of 1,125 yards allowed in a 12-game season in 1953. The former yards per-game record was 74.7, set in 2001.
The Steelers came within 34 yards of tying the NFL's record for rushing yards allowed in a 16-game season (970), set by the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
Some other defensive highlights this season:
• The Steelers were the only NFL team to allow just one run longer than 20 yards in 2010.
• They allowed just two teams -- the New York Jets (106) and New England Patriots (102) -- to rush for more than 100 yards against them. No other team rushed for more than 75 yards.
• They did not allow a 100-yard rusher all season and just one in the past 50 games.
Mike Wallace, who tied John Stallworth's team record (1984) of having seven 100-yard receiving games in a season, teamed with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to set a record. Their 56-yard touchdown pass against the Browns was the eighth of 40 yards or more in Roethlisberger's and Wallace's two years together.
"That was just the play call since last week," Wallace said. "We knew we were going to run that play."
The Browns scored their only touchdown when they drove 88 yards in 12 plays in the fourth quarter against 10 Steelers substitutes on defense. The only starter left was linebacker James Harrison because there wasn't another linebacker to replace him.
Did the captain of the defense say anything to his understudies.
"Not yet; I didn't get a chance to talk to them," James Farrior said. "They're going to catch it all when we get back home."
Here are the Steelers' opponents at home and on the road for 2011.
On the road: San Francisco, Arizona, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Houston and the three AFC North opponents.
At home: Tennessee, Seattle, St. Louis, Jacksonville, New England and their three division opponents.
Dates for games are usually determined in April.
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