TONIGHT’S KEY MATCH-UPS
Philip Rivers vs. Steelers’ pass rush
Shutting down the pass is a two-way deal. It takes heavy pressure on the quarterback and blanket coverage in the secondary.
Considering that the Steelers are playing without injure strong safety Troy Polamlau (knee), the coverage hasn’t been that bad. The real problem is the lack of a disrupting pass rush.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau likes to say that a quarterback hurry can be just as effective as a sack. But the Steelers aren’t hurrying or sacking opposing QBs like they did the past two years.
That’s especially true at outside linebacker where James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley aren’t playing up to the high standard they established last year when they combined for 27.5 sacks.
After three games, Harrison has just one sack and Woodley none. As a team, the Steelers had 10 sacks after three games last year. They only have five after three games this year.
Rivers, the fourth overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, leads the league with 991 passing yards. If the Steelers don’t harass Rivers tonight with a relentless pass rush, he’ll pick apart the secondary.