Facebook Twitter

BLITZBURGH DEFENSE SMASHES PHILLY

SHARE BLITZBURGH DEFENSE SMASHES PHILLY

To put these Pittsburgh Steelers in proper historical perspective, it is necessary to return to the 1970s. Just like Bud Carson did.

He'd seen it all before: a cold, hard December wind blowing snow off the three rivers and passes away from receivers. A pumped-to-the-max crowd that took to the 9-degree wind chill like a day at the beach. An inhospitable, motivated defense leading the streaking Steelers to the postseason.He knows what these days can do to a quarterback. He knows because the last time the Steelers were this good, he ran the Steel Curtain defense still regarded as the best to play the game.

Now, 20 years later, he stood on the opposing sideline as the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, once a virtual lock for the playoffs at 7-2 but now in danger of a losing season. What he saw probably made him feel like he'd gone back in time.

"We're playing as well as anybody - we must be, because people are comparing us to those great teams," safety Darren Perry said Sunday after a Steel Curtain-like defensive performance led the Steelers to a 14-3 victory. "We've got a defense where any of the 11 can make a great play."

Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham, already in a slump but in an even-worse one after passing for a career-low 59 yards, now knows what Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly meant when he said, "Sometimes it's hard to believe there's only 11 of them."

The Steelers haven't been 11-3 since 1979, when they last won the Super Bowl. They've broken the team single-season sacks record set in 1974, and the 105 yards allowed were the fewest by any Steelers defense since 1977.

"This defense wants to go to the Super Bowl," defensive end Ray Seals said after Pittsburgh's sixth consecutive victory. "You can't ask for much more than what our defense is playing right now."

The Steelers (11-3) blitzed, schemed, improvised, fooled, sacked and so confounded the Eagles (7-7) who, despite a game-opening field-goal drive, were as miserable as the weather.

Miserable? Not to coach Bill Cowher, who is hoping for more wind, snow, ice and nastiness when the Steelers and Browns (10-4) play Sunday in Three Rivers with the AFC Central title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs still to be decided.

"This is what we're fighting to get," Cowher said. "I think the only two people on our team who aren't looking for home-field advantage are the kickers because of the weather. This is football weather. This is Pittsburgh weather."

To Cunningham, any climate seems inhospitable right now. Just as he has throughout the Eagles' five-game losing streak, he threw a critical interception - this one to Darren Perry in the fourth quarter - that killed a possible rally.