Which Steelers defense of the past decade can be crowned the best?

Troy Polamalu #43 // James Harrison #92 (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Troy Polamalu #43 // James Harrison #92 (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /
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James Harrison Troy Polamalu Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Steelers 2010 defense is nostalgia’s finest

Just two years after hoisting their sixth Lombardi trophy in 2008 and becoming the first NFL franchise to do, the Steelers were still itching for a seventh with a roster riddled with talent. The 10th best odds to open the 2010 season, projections didn’t prove much, as Pittsburgh would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, primarily due to its spectacular defense.

Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, Brett Kiesel, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Clark, Ike Tay- nearly every name on this defensive roster was worthy enough to be listed & everyone knew who they were. A linebacker group that was loathed by any offense that had to deal with their aggression, a pair of EDGE rushers that each had double-digit sacks, and an aging but experienced secondary that also had the 2010 NFL DPOY, the hype was redeemed.

After being the number one ranked defense in 08’, the production took a significant hit as Polamalu fell for most of the 2009 season after re-aggravating a calf injury. And to make it simple, yes, he meant THAT much. Forwarding to 2010, and a now-healthy Troy, the defense catapulted back to their respective placement, the top.

Ranked second in total yards, first in points, and third in takeaways, let’s label this, for reference purposes, as the “triple crown” for defenses in the NFL. Essentially finishing out top three in the three major defensive categories. Since 2010, five teams have done this:

– 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers
– 2013 Seattle Seahawks
– 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars
– 2018 Chicago Bears
– 2019 New England Patriots

However, for the Steelers, they would be the only defense listed out the five who’s team’s offense ranked outside of the top 10 in points per game (12th – 23.4 PPG). Slightly, but it illuminates how great this defense was, and understated it is when talked among the greatest in the 21st century.

Responsible for three Pro-Bowlers (tied-2nd) & two first-team All-Pros (tied-1st), and as said before, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Troy Polamalu, it was a spectacle to watch all season that lasted until the big game. Giving up their second-highest total points on the season to the Green Bay Packers & a prime Aaron Rodgers, a valiant second-half effort fell short to lose 25-31 in Super Bowl 45.

The beginning of the end to a memorable era for the Steelers, they peaked off at a level that wouldn’t be seen again for another ten years.