Where to start with this defense?  It is the end all, be all definitive of Pittsburgh football.  They play hard, they hurt you and the brains behind the brawn, Dick Lebeau, is second to none.  They face their largest challenge Sunday on the largest stage.  Are they equal to the task?

Can DPOY Troy Polamalu and company shut down the Packers?

It all starts up front.  The Pittsburgh front seven is ass good as it gets in all of football.  Casey Hampton anchors the whole thing, flanked by Brett Kiesel and Ziggy hood.  These three rarely get the press of their 4-3 counterparts, but in LeBeau’s 3-4, they are capable of tying up an offensive line in order for the ‘backers- Woodley, Harrison, Farrior and Timmons- to wreak havoc in the backfield.  They will be matched up against a solid offensive line that will anticipate the blitz, and a quarterback who can escape pressure with the best of them.  To counter this, the linebackers will have to be more patient than they are used to being- Rodgers is dangerous when flushed, so one guy getting there will either have to make the tackle or keep Rodgers occupied long enough for help.  If he is chased out of the pocket, he can make throws on the run, or make you pay with his legs.  Even short scrambles, especially on early downs, will hurt the Steelers defense a lot.

Which brings us to a secondary that has been playing out-of-its-mind good football in the playoffs (so have the Packers- but we’ll get to them later).  Led by the latest defensive player of the year, Troy Polamalu, they excel in coverage and don’t hesitate to support the run- not that they will have to.  The Packers receiving corps is no easy match up, and pressure from the front seven will go a long way to helping this secondary.  Cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden will be asked to play a lot of single coverage, as Polamalu and Ryan Clark will be the wild cards, ranging all over the field- but he corners have not always delivered in those situations.  If they can answer the call, and shut down in single coverage, the Packers passing attack is in for a long day.

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