The sad truth is that the Steelers' D has declined from an unquestionable #1 last year to a... middle of the pack D this year. We see flashes of the old D, but if we play 4 quarters of Steeler defense -- with some fucking takeaways for a change -- it'll be the first time this year. Sequel to that, the Ravens D was the likely #2, if only just ahead of say the Vikings, but still a premier defense. No one's admitting that they, too, have slipped. Can't stop the pass, allowed that 100-yard runner, etc.
I dunno, Findude. I don't think you're givin' that group enough credit. IMO, as inconsistent as the defense has been, they're far from a middle of the road squad. While they might not have shown it lately, they're still elite (i.e. top 5, easy) and that's where I fully expect them to be come the end of this season.
It's hard to be lights out every week, every game. Look at Minnesota who was outgained (I believe) by the Boller led Rams; the Jets last night who got torched by Chad "Yeah, I went to the same college as Tom Brady" Henne; the revamped Saints defense that gave up almost 30 to the Lions back in Week 1. Even the Ravens, who also rolled over for the Bengals on a final drive, are still a top group that most teams don't look forward to facing.
I really attribute these minor hiccups to mental issues. I think there's a little bit of a hangover there. You can see it almost every week. They're not as sharp for 60 full as they should be. Too much is being taken for granted. "Eh, we're up by three scores...time to coast." "No way they come back against this defense two possessions down with less than 5 to play." We've seen it almost every game.
It's the opposite of last year where most of their wins were nail biters, with #7 pulling it out in the end. It really requires a different mentality to win those types of games. Couple that with facing some of the bottom feeders and it's a recipe for disaster.
I guess what I'm tryin' to drive at here is what I've said a couple times already this year. They've played some very average ball and they're a couple FGs here or a couple dropped passes there away from being 4-1 or even 5-0. Then, you've got teams out there like Denver or Cincy who have guys/groups playing on stratospheric levels (Orton, the Bengals defense, respectively) and they've also had a lot
go their way. They're not much better off than Pittsburgh ATM, but I expect Pittsburgh to improve as the season wears on, while those squads will most definitely come back to earth.
Gotta try to keep an even keel here, even with almost a third of the season in the books. Can't get too high with the highs or low with the lows. Jets fans were talkin' NY/NY Super Bowl two weeks ago and now they're sure the playoffs are no longer within reach with many needing to be coaxed off the ledge. With the start Baltimore had, I'm sure their fanbase is havin' similar thoughts too.
At the end of the day, I still like this team's chances, even at 3-2.