By 1983, the Steelers’ defense had lost much of its Steel Curtain strength, but it still looked plenty formidable to a young, hotshot quarterback from Stanford making his NFL debut at Three Rivers Stadium.
“He had no teeth, and he was slobbering all over himself,” John Elway would say later of Jack Lambert (above). “I’m thinking, ‘You can have your money back. Just get me out of here. Let me go be an accountant …’ ”
Wouldn’t it be great if San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has some of those same thoughts tonight when he looks at the Steelers’ defense and sees the Most Feared Player In The NFL — or so some say — glaring back at him?
It’s not out of the question that Joey Porter and pals will put a little fright and confusion into Rivers, a young, hotshot quarterback who will be making his fourth NFL start. That’s typically been the impact a Dick LeBeau-coached defense has on inexperienced quarterbacks. It’s especially been true the past two-plus seasons when LeBeau has played evil tricks on opposing offenses by calling on the versatility of such players as Porter, James Farrior and Troy Polamalu.
Since Dick LeBeau returned as defensive coordinator in 2004, the Steelers have gone 5-0 against quarterbacks in their first season as a starter. Only the New York Giants’ Eli Manning had any success against them. Last season, Chicago’s Kyle Orton and Cleveland’s Charlie Frye combined to complete just 50 percent of their passes, were sacked 11 times and converted only 5 of 29 third-down situations. In 2004, Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer, seeing the Steelers’ defense for the first time, had his second-lowest passer rating of the season (52.1).
On this morning’s “NFL Countdown”, ESPN’s Sal Palantonio is doing his best to preview the 1pm Cowboys/Eagles pairing, but he can’t be heard above the crowd chanting, “O.D., O.D.”
Stay classy, Philly!