Some of you don't recall the dark days following our run of 4 SBs in the '70's when age started to catch up with us, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The L.C. Greenwood Sports Illustrated cover with the phrase "Have the Steelers Had it?" still hangs in my Fortress of Steelertude.
Warren Sapp pissed off a lot of people by saying we're old on defense. Well, considering we are the 'oldest' on average D in the League, he isn't wrong. We have been gashed in 2 of 3 weeks by the run and it's clear that starts on the D-line. Smith and Hampton are getting pushed back and it's impacting our LB's ability to stop the run at the LoS. Troy was great last night, but we must understand why he was so visible.
With a raw QB in there, LeBeau could afford to bring TP up in run support knowing Painter couldn't do much against us with the pass (until the game-tying drive of course). Don't expect to see that every week against better QBs if we are getting pounded by the run. Thankfully TP and Silverback made the plays they are paid for making, but we can't count on that if we are playing better opponents.
This is more than just a phase folks. We have to admit that when you combine age with the wear and tear of the regular season and extended playoff runs, it's catching up with us. Not to mention Tomlin's favor of older players and you have the perfect formula for exactly what is happening. This team still has the capability of making a deep playoff run if we can get the OL stabilized at all, but that's a completely separate thread.