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Defense does its part in win

Posted Oct 7, 2012

When they walked off the field with 6:33 remaining in regulation, the Steelers’ defense had just surrendered a 17-play, 79-yard drive in 8:18, one that had resulted in the touchdown that had given the Philadelphia Eagles a one-point lead, 14-13.

More revealing as to the caliber of the Steelers’ overall defensive performance on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field was the scoreboard. The Eagles, at that juncture, had just 14 points.

And in the end 14 wasn’t enough in a 16-14, come-from-behind Steelers’ triumph..

“We needed this win bad,” defensive end Brett Keisel assessed.

The Steelers got it thanks in no small part to a defense that bounced back with a vengeance after having surrendered 34 points in their last game action – that being on Sept. 23 in Oakland.

This time the Eagles managed just those 14 points, and Philadelphia also was held to a season-low 246 total net yards.

Running back LeSean McCoy contributed 53 yards on the ground, a season-low for McCoy, on 16 carries. Quarterback Michael Vick was limited to 16 yards rushing and 175 through the air, a season-low passing total for him. And the Steelers’ defense doubled its turnover total for the season by collecting a pair of fumble recoveries to match the two turnovers Pittsburgh had produced on defense in the first three games.

And the Steelers’ defense did all of that despite losing strong safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) prior to halftime.

One of the saviors was linebacker James Harrison, who made his 2012 debut and finished with two tackles and a team-leading three quarterback hits in a performance his teammates felt impacted the proceedings well beyond the statistics.

The plan coming in had been to rotate Harrison but the rotation plan was never put into practice.

“When you get a player like James, who wants to compete, he works hard to be out there,” safety Ryan Clark said. “I think he was just going to play it by ear. If he can go, if he can give us something, he’s going to come out and do that. I think that’s what he did today.

“Like we talked all week, he’s a defensive MVP for a reason. It’s not just about talent. It’s about effort. It’s about want-to. It’s about desire, and he has all those things. I think his presence alone was a big factor in the game.”

Harrison graded his effort a “C-minus,” and said afterward he still hasn’t found his legs.

“It’s going to take a while to get back in shape,” Harrison said. “It’s a lot that needs to be corrected. I need more endurance. I don’t think I had any pop. But we came out with the win and that’s all that really matters.”

Also visible as a disruptive influence throughout was linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who finished with a team-high nine tackles, a team-high two tackles for a loss (along with linebacker Jason Worilds), two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

“It’s always good to have a good game, help the defense out,” Timmons said. “I love playing for my teammates. They did blitz me a little bit more so I took advantage of it. I did a good job against the backs, and I got freed up a little bit and I made a few plays here and there.”

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